Mother’s Day has come and gone once again — an occasion to appreciate and thank our mothers, or celebrate our children, or spend time with family, or take a break from family and care for ourselves, or be grateful for a reconciliation, or sometimes grieve the loss of a mother, or a child, or mourn a damaged bond. Whatever your experience with the day is, it can inspire a moment of reflection on the nature of the relationship between mother and child. And provide an opportunity to observe the health of our hearts in this area.
The greatest mother of all is our planet Earth — our very home, hearth, womb, and provider of all we need to survive and thrive. We transition from mother’s womb to Earth’s womb when we are “born”, but we are as dependent on this bright blue ball for survival as we were on Mama’s fertile haven. We share air, sunlight, water, and nutrients with this beautiful and generous planet. We receive and return. We are, fundamentally, inseparable.
The Earth Mother meets us always with infinite care and unconditional offerings of self. And yet we are failing miserably in our part of the equation — to protect, care for, honor, cherish and heal this earth body. Yes, WE. For while the most massive environmental and human rights assaults are committed by governments and corporations that seem outside of us and beyond our reach, we in fact are the very components that make up and support all the forces creating our future, even these seemingly external and untouchable ones.
Yes, when we are honest with ourselves, we know that our daily choices are contributing to this mess. We call it Climate Change, but, as we well know, the ramifications are far more vast than a simple transformation in the earth’s weather. In my darkest moments, I’m tempted to call it something more foreboding like The Beginning Of The End, but I ultimately prefer how beloved Buddhist teacher and social/environmental activist Joanna Macy reframes this era as The Great Turning:
“The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.
The ecological and social crises we face are inflamed by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits–in other words by how fast materials can be extracted from Earth and turned into consumer products, weapons, and waste.
A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs. Future generations, if there is a livable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning. It is happening now.
Whether or not it is recognized by corporate-controlled media, the Great Turning is a reality. Although we cannot know yet if it will take hold in time for humans and other complex life forms to survive, we can know that it is under way. And it is gaining momentum, through the actions of countless individuals and groups around the world. To see this as the larger context of our lives clears our vision and summons our courage.” — Ref.
There is so much scary truth but also sublime inspiration in these words. She goes on to recommend Personal Guidelines for The Great Turning, for this is both a personal and collective journey, an awakening of heart and mind we must go through, working with our fear and overwhelmth and apathy and guilt and shame and helplessness to get to the other side — the place where we can actually DO something about it.
Last year on Mother’s Day I wrote about Lovingkindness and the Beloved Community and our responsibility as members of this human family to practice love and goodwill toward all beings, even those we believe are “the problem” (including ourselves!), with the inspiration that this practice is at the heart of ending violence in our world.
This year, I want to share with you some of the Mother’s Day Resolutions I’ve made over the past several years. I’ve committed to these resolutions specifically with the intention of healing the earth and my relationship with her. They always begin with a behavior I want to shift in order to contribute to the healing of the earth and to lessen my impact, and come from a place that is unshakable, and rooted — literally — in our interbeing with this precious planet and all her inhabitants. And it turns out that this act of love seems to survive in my heart more successfully than something I decide to change for me alone.
I make them at this time of the year rather than on Jan 1 because my deep and sacred love for the earth and humanity feels immediate and real, in a way that the concept of an arbitrary date on the calendar does not. Besides, the origin of the Mother’s Day holiday has at its soul the grandest intention and inspiration of all — working to create peace and end violence in a world gone mad. Now that is a resolution I can really resonate with.
So if you care about the earth, if you want to remain awake and engaged during this scary time, if you want to do something positive for the planet and future generations, I suggest considering some of these changes. In my own life, they have worked magic as daily practices of love and goodwill toward the planet, increasing my capacity for kindness and authenticity and shrinking my store of guilt and fear and helplessness.
And while they’re not always easy, that’s part of the practice, too. Who ever promised there would be no effort or sacrifice required on our healing journeys? And even the act taking a good hard look at any resistance you might find can be a valuable exercise, and possibly the first baby step in shifting something, however incrementally.
Resolutions for Loving the Earth:
- Go vegetarian. Whatever your spiritual, political, or philosophical opinions are on the topic of vegetarianism, it’s a mathematical fact a meat-based diet uses far more of the planet’s precious resources than a plant-based diet. So in a world where people are starving and we still tear down rain forests and destroy native habitats and abuse and incarcerate animals to support our addiction to meat and animal products, it makes common sense to stop eating it, or at least reduce consumption drastically. (And the same resource math also applies to “happy cows”, by the way.)
- Go vegan. See notes on #1 above, as they all apply. And veganism will shrink your carbon footprint even further.
- Divest from fossil fuels. This could mean putting your retirement savings in sustainable investments like green mutual funds, impact CDs, or solar projects. It could also mean identifying one place per week you could ride your bike or walk or take the bus rather than driving your car. It could also mean buying less stuff, almost all of which is produced, packaged and shipped using some form of fossil fuel.
- Meditate every day. This is the surest way to love yourself, wake up, see more clearly, build emotional resiliency, remove obstacles, feel a little more happiness, make more ethical choices, and find equanimity in the face of the enormous and potentially terrifying challenge we currently face. And when we inhabit these realms we are kinder to everyone around us, including the planet. See my last blog post for some more reasoning behind this one.
- Take care of your body every day. This can mean 20 minutes of yoga. Or a mindful walk through your neighborhood. Or the bike ride in #3 above. Whatever works for you to make a practice out of being in your body. One side effect is obviously physical health. But the result I’m even more interested in is the joy of reconnecting with our physical bodies, as metaphor for reconnecting with the Earth. How we treat our own body — with love and care, or abandonment and abuse? — will directly influence the kind of energy we are capable of bringing to our planet’s body.
If something resonates, go for it. If you have a better idea, go for it. If you find resistance, sit with that. We have to start where we are. And it takes an immense amount of courage to face our contribution to another’s suffering, including that of the planet — and especially if we are complicit in it — without just sticking our heads back in the sand. So we are brave, we are strong, we are full of love, and we are waking up!
I’ll end with a jarring yet accurate reminder from the past and a people who understood interbeing in a way we have sadly and clearly forgotten:
“When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.” — Cree Prophecy
Let’s remember our responsibility, and the fact of our interconnectedness. Let’s relearn how to care for this planet, our collective body. Let’s start with a deep heart-analysis of our current relationship with the Earth — the ways in which we harm her in our daily life, and the baby steps we can take to repair all of this.
She loves us, unconditionally. Let’s return the favor.
And as always, I’ll leave you with a song. This one was a love song for my babies, Jasper and Silas, back when they were little and sweet and still sat on my lap for stories and mixed magic potions in the mud and wore capes that really gave them the power to fly. They’re still sweet, and they still constantly amaze me with their wild and deep spirits and infinite capacity to give and receive love. They have taught me almost all of what I know about love and life. And they are of this earth as much as they are of me. Here is a moon hug for all of you, your mothers, your children, and all beings.
Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.
I’ll give you a moon hug
hug you all day long
and all night wide
while star kisses
rain down around us
we’re catchin’ ‘em here in our hearts
now we’re shinin’ inside
like the mountains
like the ocean
waves that fall
like the wind
that is how I love you
like the sun
huge and hot
like the tiniest
like the buds
that is how I love you
like the roots
like the branches
like the forest
that is how I love you
like the earth’s
like the stars’
like the moon
round and blue
that is how I love you
from Party Like a Twinkle Star, released 01 January 2010
All content copyright 2009-2014 Charity Kahn.