Reflections on Village Life in Uganda or The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change

by Robert Kugonza

“When I try to reflect on the meaning of the Inner Dimensions of Climate Change what comes to mind are the things that are not seen, that are not the most talked about or thought of by our leaders and people. There is something more quiet and under the surface that needs to be brought into the light. Mother Earth is definitely grieving and in her grieving she reacts or retaliates to show us this grief. The floods we see today in places where they never used to occur. Droughts are lasting longer than in the past. Our forefathers — my parents, would tell us exactly the day, in a year, in a month when the rains would come and believe me they would come. Everyone prepared their seeds for planting and the next day everyone would be ready and out in their gardens sowing. I have seen the change in my lifetime. I remember the forests where we once walked to gather dry branches for the fire or the clear running river where we would go to fetch water. I will never forget the sense of community in the sharing of harvests with everyone in the village, where no one would go without squash or pumpkins. There was a harmony that existed in the community that is no longer present.” ~ Robert Kugonza, Uganda

Delegate to COP22 Marrakech, Inner Dimensions of Climate Change gathering

Green hills of Uganda

We were in touch with Robert recently and he wrote us more about life in the village. 

YES, the village indeed,  where harmony still has a place, where care, concern and love for one another still exist. Where respect for elders and good regard for the young ones are values in practice. Where you witness real passion and love in those greeting you. Where even with challenges of poverty, reduced forest cover and climate change and lesser food productivity, people still share the little they have. Where no view is obstructed by walls or enclosures, where sounds and vision travel freely, interaction is easy, even from a reasonable distance without mobile phones people will still call each other – the organic way. The birds sing, the roosters crow and the gentle rustle of the cow, her moos blending with the bleating of the goats and sheep. What harmonized music of nature you can hear.

Visiting with wise elders

Our village is a place where Mother Earth has the liberty to show all the mothered, her ability to love, to care, to provide and to sustain. But increasingly, the new generations do not know how to care for her in return. Unfortunately each passing day, especially for the young ones, they become more intoxicated and fall for the illusion of so called ‘development and modernity’, ways that are not in tandem with living harmoniously with Nature.  It saddens me and my heart bleeds seeing these trends of development and the people who are heartless in their treatment of nature and each other. All of these conditions led me to choose the name for my organization; Friends with Environment in Development (FED). Our focus and passion through FED is to making the local, regional, national and the world realize that the elders in local communities who are still with us are an incredible and incomparable rich resource.  They hold the richness of unlimited knowledge that this young generation needs to tap into before these elders depart. The elders hold a knowledge not between walls and exclusive of others, but a knowledge unlimited. They hold the wisdom of how to live in harmony with Nature – our Mother the Earth, and the knowledge of how to live with one another accommodatingly.  

To learn more of the work of Robert Kuganza or Friends with Environment in Development, you can write to him here: kugonzarobert@gmail.com

Re-Discovering Mata Sita and Her Relevance Today

Sita Image 1

By Dena Merriam

Sita is a beloved figure for Hindus around the world, as well as for non-Hindus throughout Southeast Asia. But the message of her life extends beyond these audiences and bears universal import, particularly relevant for the modern age when a new understanding of feminine wisdom and leadership is needed, and when we are facing an unprecedented ecological crisis. Mata Sita and Sri Ram were instrumental in setting the foundation for a new civilization during a time of transition from one era, or yuga, to another. We stand at a similar time in history, where we are experiencing the passing of one era and intuitively feel the birthing of another, as yet unknown. One thing seems certain, however, that the new society we are striving for must be ecologically-based. There is great value in looking to lessons of the past in order to move forward.

During Sita’s time on earth, humanity was beginning to shift from a nature-based way of life toward greater material development. Many concepts were implanted in the collective mind at that time that guided the subsequent development of human civilization. We have now reached the pinnacle of this development and are reaping the results of our abuse of earth’s resources—its land, water, and air. To survive as a human community, we will need to incorporate into our lives a new-found appreciation, respect, and love for the natural world, a love that was exemplified in the life of Mata Sita.

Looking back to the time when humanity was beginning to divorce itself from nature and to cultivate more of a separate, individual identity will help us understand the pitfalls of this separateness in consciousness. Seeing ourselves as disconnected from nature has given mankind the false impression that we can control nature and recklessly deplete it, discounting the rights of other life forms and ignoring our interdependent relationship.

One cannot go backward in time, nor would one want to. The goal is to incorporate the wisdom and knowledge of the past into the developments and scientific advances of today. We can learn again how to care for and love the earth and all her communities of life.  There is much that Mata Sita can teach us if we invoke her. She and Sri Ram are living presences, not just historical figures, still very much engaged with the lives of those who turn to them. During the life journey of Mata Sita and Sri Ram, each assumed roles that were different but equal in importance. Neither could achieve their life’s mission without the other. Their lives exemplify a balance of the masculine and feminine qualities and energies, despite how patriarchal forces have tried to shape the Ramayana narrative to suit later social norms.  If we recapture something of life during the higher ages we can see the story with new eyes and perceive the inner dynamic that drove the outer narrative. Remembering the harmony that existed during the higher ages will help us re-calibrate our society so that it honors the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine, both of which are needed to help restore balance to our society and to the earth.

 

Unity: The Eagle and the Condor

Message from the Kogi

by Emma Szymanski

This past March, the Global Peace Initiative of Women organized a five-day retreat in Costa Rica with 20 young ecologists and environmental activists from different regions of the United States. Mentors from various spiritual and indigenous traditions guided the program in exploring the convergence of spirituality and ecology, as well as the intersectionality that must be taken up in addressing the multifaceted, global crises beyond climate change. Participants met to discuss the shifts in consciousness and relation to the Earth through a long-eschewed spiritual lens, in the context of the environmental movement in the United States.

This was one gathering in a series of meetings (see highlights of last year’s Costa Rica gathering here) with young people around the world that GPIW has organized over the last few years. This initiative grounds its efforts and expression in the idea of Mother Earth’s essential sacredness, as well as in the cultivation of inner wisdom or self-awareness as a means of healing and restoring bonds with both the natural world.

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Participants of the “Inner Dimensions of Climate Change” retreat — opening day at the Earth Charter International headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Earth’s biodiversity, including the cultural diversity and vitality of the global human community, manifests as incomprehensibly complex systems in motion. These systems are fundamentally deserving of respect, care, and awe. Reciprocity and mutual flourishing, two elements often found among coexisting species and communities in the natural world, in a way represent the crossing of thresholds that embody any healthy living system. En route to transformation, may we first and foremost seek the paths toward harmony and shared prosperity by learning to face inward—not selfishly, but instead as liminal beings whose inner dimensions illuminate a collective source of wisdom, so often unseen and inaccessible in today’s world of distractions and artificiality.

We were honored to be joined by Pacha K’anchay, a young Kogi leader who traveled from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia to deliver his people’s message. Trained in the teachings of community elders, Pacha kindly imparted profound wisdom unto the group on the opening evening. His words, and those of Mindahi Munoz, a resident scholar at the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, are translated into both English and Spanish below. As you read, consider how you yourself might recognize the animate, dynamic essence of the natural world. Perhaps you may let that energetic force flood your individual mind, if only for a few moments, as one living, beating, breathing being among innumerable others.

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Top row, from left to right: Mindahi Bastida, Pacha K’anchay, and Geraldine Patrick.

“Eagle and Condor”

English

Pacha K’anchay:

From the lands of Central America, where the beaks of the condor and the eagle unite, we meet here, offering a tribute to the ancient and ancestral peoples who walked on this land.

Which today, as spirits, provide food and are the nature of this land. They are the songs of birds, and they still live in the sounds of our waters, and they still have a community.

And this spirit has allowed many beings to learn, to unite in knowledge, and today, there are many ways of wanting to join with nature.

We are here to make a call to the conscience and to the heart of all human beings, so that we can once again synchronize our heart with that of Mother Earth’s.

From the things that are real, from forgiving the person next to us, and from understanding the time in which we find ourselves, it is time to unify ourselves among our peoples.

It is time for nations to understand that millenary wisdom was left on Earth for humanity to uphold herself.

And we were given forms of thought so that in each territory there would be peace and balance and harmony among the beings that live there.

From the heart, we send a message to all the beings that can see this message, that from your heart you may feel the need for a transformation, to protect life, to unify with nature.

Many today have spiritual faculties, and the thought is growing; others, from the reason and with scientific faculties, can aide so that nature, our Mother Earth, continues and lives for a long time.

From our heart we have come here to give thanks for life, to unify ourselves with the essence of thought.

We are in the time of prophecies where the Sun sends his messages and the Earth manifests her changes.

We are in the time of birth pains, moving towards a time in which we reconnect with our interior.

The prophecies of our ancestors are fulfilled today. The prophecies were told so that today, we who are alive in this historic moment, may again synchronize ourselves with the Earth and with the Universe.

From the peoples of South America of the lands of the condor, from the people of the eagle.

We also lift up unity to Tibet, the Himalayas, to the great territories found all over the planet to unify ourselves in the heart of Mother Earth for life.

This is how, here today, in nature, among family and among the hearts of the people, we send to you, from our heart, all the strength to unify ourselves in this web of life.

From the heart of the lands of the eagle and the condor, Abyayala, in the center of what is now called Costa Rica, we raise this call to the unity of the peoples for life. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Greetings! We greet you with our hearts from the lands of the central highlands of Mexico, here in Costa Rica.

I greet my KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Eagle and condor, here in these millenary lands.

The time of our voice has come, our time has come.

Nothing and no one will speak for us any more, nor will they sit to discuss what they will do with our peoples, with our territories.

The dawn is approaching, the birds are saying so. The quetzal will return to these lands and to others.

We also want to greet the distant lands: the dragon and the Phoenix, because one day we will join them, also.

We send this message because we all have something to contribute.

Human beings have created the problem, and now we are going to create the solution, together, in a process of unification where we learn ‘to be’ in this ‘collective way of being’.

In the ‘way of being’ from which we departed many times over the past seven thousand years.

The dawn is approaching, and we are in a process of transition. We are here for the new dawn.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Onward with everything, with life, for the life, and for life.

Español

Pacha K’anchay:

Desde las tierras de Centroamérica, donde se unen el pico del cóndor y del águila, nos encontramos aquí ofreciéndole un tributo a los pueblos milenarios y ancestrales que caminaron por acá.

Que hoy, como espíritus, brindan alimento y son la naturaleza de esta tierra. Que son los cantos de las aves, y que aún viven en los sonidos de nuestras aguas, y aún tienen comunidad.

Y ese espíritu ha permitido que muchos seres aprendan, que se unan en conocimiento, y hoy aparecen muchas formas de querer unirse más a la naturaleza.

Estamos aquí para hacerle un llamado a la conciencia y al corazón de todos los seres humanos, para que podamos nuevamente sincronizar nuestro corazón con el de la Madre Tierra.

Desde lo real, desde perdonar al que tenemos al lado, y desde comprender el tiempo en el que nos encontramos, es el momento de unificarnos entre pueblos.

Es el momento de que las naciones comprendan que la sabiduría milenaria se dejó en la tierra para que se sostuviera la humanidad.

Y se nos dejaron formas de pensamiento para que en cada territorio hubiera paz y equilibrio y armonía entre los seres que ahí están.

De corazón enviamos un mensaje a todos los seres que puedan observar este mensaje, de que de corazón sientan la necesidad de una transformación, de proteger la vida, de unificarnos con la naturaleza.

Muchos hoy día tienen facultades espirituales y el pensamiento va creciendo; otros desde la razón, con las facultades científicas, pueden aportar a que la naturaleza, nuestra Madre Tierra, continúe y perviva en el tiempo.

De corazón aquí hemos venido a agradecer por la vida, a unificarnos con la esencia del pensamiento.

Estamos en los tiempos de las profecías en donde el Sol envía sus mensajes y la Tierra se manifiesta con sus cambios.

Estamos en el tiempo de dolor de parto hacia un tiempo en donde estamos volviendo a conectarnos con nuestro interior.

Las profecías de nuestros ancestros hoy se cumplen. Se dijeron para que hoy nosotros, que vivimos este momento histórico, podamos sincronizarnos nuevamente con la Tierra y el Universo.

Desde los pueblos de Sudamérica de las tierras del cóndor, desde los pueblos del águila.

También elevamos la unidad hacia el Tíbet, el Himalaya, hacia los grandes territorios que se encuentran en todo el planeta para unificarnos en el corazón de la Madre Tierra por la vida.

Es así, como hoy aquí, en esta naturaleza, entre la familia, entre el corazón de los pueblos, les enviamos a ustedes, desde nuestro corazón, toda la fuerza para unificarnos en este tejido de vida.

Desde el corazón de las tierras del águila y el cóndor, el Abyayala, en todo el centro de que hoy llaman Costa Rica, elevamos este llamado hasta la unidad de los pueblos por la vida. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Saludo! Les saludamos con el corazón desde las tierras del altiplano central de México aquí desde Tepantí, desde Costa Rica.

Saludo a mi KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Águila y cóndor, aquí en estas tierras milenarias.

Ha llegado el tiempo de nuestra voz, el tiempo nuestro.

Ya nada ni nadie hablará por nosotros ni se sentarán a discutir qué harán con nuestros pueblos, con los territorios.

Ya se acerca la alborada, los pájaros están mencionando. El quetzal volverá por estas tierras y por otras.

También queremos saludar a las tierras lejanas: al dragón y al Fénix, porque un día nos uniremos también con ellos.

Enviamos este mensaje porque todos tenemos algo que aportar.

Los seres humanos ahora hemos creado el problema y ahora vamos a crear la solución, juntos, en un proceso de unificación donde nosotros estamos aprendiendo a ‘ser’ en este ‘ser colectivo’.

En ese ‘ser’ que muchas veces se desvió desde hace siete mil años.

Ya se acerca la alborada, y estamos en un proceso de transición. Estamos por el nuevo amanecer.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Adelante con todo, con la vida, para la vida, y por la vida.



Along the Banks of the Nile: Messages from Nature

 

by Chief Tamale Bwoya, Kingdom of Buganda

River Nile - Chief Tamale Bwoya

 

This year I decided to retreat along the bank of the River Nile, to connect and communicate with the conventional energies that travel and circle the planet.

River Nile originates from Lake Victoria in East Africa and travels to the Mediterranean Sea before it joins the Atlantic ocean. From there it circles the planet and returns to Africa by conventional means. All along this journey it carries much wisdom and holds the secrets of the planet.

I was prompted to retreat along the Nile by the visit I had to the River Rhine in Europe, where I was invited to attend as a special delegate to the UN Climate Change Summit COP 23 in Bonn, Germany. I was there as a spiritual mentor and facilitator of a program organized by GPIW called the Inner Dimensions of Climate Change, a retreat and dialogue for young ecologists from Europe.

At the United Nations portion of the program, I heard nature complaining that her voice was not effectively represented, and her wishes and desires were not included in the resolutions. I believe that the UN secretariat should endeavor to invite more wisdom keepers from different parts of the world and prepare a special forum for them to share-out what nature tells them should be done to solve the climate crisis, and the future of life. However, I was gratified by the effort made by the industrial nations to  reduce carbon emissions and to examine several other environmental dangers.

On the part of Europe, nature revealed that the European spirituality has the most comprehensive data base for nearly everything on earth. It’s on record that the social events, political decisions, and the scientific discoveries that took place on the European continent, greatly changed and transformed the planet in the past and in  present times. As revealed by nature, Europe’s responsibility is the spirituality governing space, and Africa’s responsibility is the spirituality governing the land. Space symbolizes Europe’s energetic nature in a light, intelligent, fast and radiant spiritual  system, which are qualities that  give it a transformative value. Therefore, because of its transformative potential, Europe will be a key player in the new eco- evolution and transformation, hence Europe should work hard to reconcile and rehabilitate its ecological mistakes and to groom able and competent spiritual leaders to face new ecological challenges.

Lack of able and competent spiritual  leadership is the greatest problem humanity faces. The divisions and competition reigning within the spiritual world and their desire to dominate and control man, has disabled man to unite and to solve the ecological demands required of him. Many communities today that passed through colonization had faced spiritual manipulations or social indoctrination of their cultures and values and now find it extremely difficult to identify their sacred spiritual chiefs. In this regard, some “unidentified” chiefs are completely lost/hidden to the society, while others that are recognized are classified with witchcraft or evilness and need to be protected from discrimination.

The way to overcome this problem is for the different traditional leadership at community or regional levels to collaborate so that the cosmic energies of oneness and conscious awakening can work together to reactivate the healing energies in nature, in order to awaken the sacred leadership that disappeared in the past to rise again in those communities. The community leadership  we see in many  indigenous communities  today are either elected  or appointed or inherited leadership, but the world needs sacred value holders – the men and women with the ability to tap into the secrets of nature and hence protect and guide their communities and the world. But because of the fear held by the civil and religious leaders of losing their social influence and leadership status, they are using their positions now to suppress and demonize the very leadership the world needs due to the ecological demands of the time. New measures should be taken to formalize matters of nature instead of leaving the big questions about natural systems and manifestations to be answered by civil or religious personnel who may not be the legitimate representatives and wisdom holders of these natural systems.

The manifestation of the new ecological evolution appears to rise through the young people, but it’s our collective responsibility, young and old, to reconcile the past with the present eco-systems as fast as possible, so as to reduce the magnitude of calamities that befall man through natural disasters for his lack of ecological action and disobedience to supreme nature.

New revelations given to Chief Tamale Bwoya

In my retreat meditation, I received the following messages from Supreme Nature: 

“People should follow the messages I share regarding the environmental problems on the planet. If science is the cause of the ecological destruction, I will reverse it.”

“I have given several messages of warning and guidance to mankind, but people have chosen to challenge these.”

“I will weaken the greater nations and raise weaker ones so as to neutralize supremacy.”

More secrets about the upcoming ecological evolution were revealed as below:

An introduction of new values into life on Earth, as old ones are being gradually withdrawn. The new measures will limit human authority and pressure mankind to accede to the requirements of nature. For example, man will not have the power to manipulate the new ecological concepts for economic, social or political gain. There will be a new spiritual energy present that will shift our ambitions and enhance human consciousness toward a more positive and higher purpose of life. (These new conceptual values seemed to give Mother Earth some relief, because in my visions, I saw her tears dry out. This transformative action according to Nature is already gradually taking place).

Life did not originate here on Earth it was transferred from elsewhere in the cosmos due to ecological circumstances. It is revealed that since the time life emerged on Earth, it has undergone three fundamental ecological evolutions: T

1.This first evolution did not take place on Earth, but took place in the spiritual realms.

2. The second evolution saw the introduction of physical life on Earth. While life on Earth has undergone different states of social and ecological developments, the conceptual values of Nature have remained the same.

3. The third evolution is the one we are currently in. The first and second evolutions will be evaluated for trial. Both spiritual and physical life will be cross examined. Harmful actions will be condemned and any values that led to the manipulation of life will be withdrawn and higher values introduced into life. 

 According to observations of the ecological developments and the spiritual evaluation of climate actions taken on earth per continent, Nature indicates that Asia will rise up as a world power and will take up the ecological obligations to lead the planet through this third evolution. However, Europe will be a major ally because of its great contributions  in the second evolution. Africa and South America will make strong economic and social partnerships. Finally, Nature calls on the chiefs to become more practical. To come out of their hiding places and explore the magnificence and completeness in which the world was created. The cosmos has multi-dimensional applications that are untapped and are needed to help heal the planet. It is only the sacred spiritual chiefs that have access to these mysteries from Nature.

Mother Earth is calling on you, as her tears are drying up in the hope of the new ecological transformation. The introduction of new values will require the help of the sacred chiefs to oversee and guide the world into conscious science, politics, social and economic policies that humanity and nature need for ecological sustainability.

As the big nations endeavor to reduce carbon emissions and other industrial dangers on their own continents, the same programs should extend to other vulnerable continents. We now see pharmaceutical and big industries closing down in the industrialized continents only to be transferred to the continents supportive of ecological work. We are making the same mistake because the equation remains exactly the same everywhere on the planet. No matter where the environmental danger is placed, whether in Africa, Asia or in Europe. We should help other continents cultivate their own development that is aligned with their ecological values instead of suffocating new wisdom and civilization that is rising up on these continents that is supportive and sustainable for all of life. Nature said, “This world was put into the hands of the chiefs” – this was the revelation given to me by Nature in Laikipia, Kenya in 2012. Please endeavor to open the social barriers because the duty to govern the world was mandated to you, Spiritual Chiefs, by the Divine Authority. Life was not created in the institutional spaces defined by places of worship but in the wilderness, in nature, in the forests and the mountains themselves. Therefore, come out of the institutions to receive the creative wisdom and instructions that you will need to move into the new evolution on Earth.

Peace be to you all.

Chief Tamale Bwoya

Buganda Kingdom, East Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for the Children of the World

Protect the children, new born pups, the young shoots –  every form of budding life!
Baby's Hands

Beloved Great Grandmother, the Ancestral, please help the children, new born pups, the young shoots — every form of budding life!

Beloved Great Grandmother, the Ancestral from whose womb we all are born, whose fragrant silver hair falls long and thick.  When I reach to touch it I feel Your timeless hands caressing me as well, here, where I am, always between Your big warm arms … where I know You listen to me and so I speak to You. I have none of Your powers but, like anyone else, I can be the one to call on You and ask for help:

Beloved Great Grandmother, the Ancestral, please help the children, new born pups, the young shoots — every form of budding life!

I feel within me their birth and the joy of life that they bring I also feel the pain of those many who suffer … because of us, human beings. Upon this generous mother planet we have to be guardians in service to Life but it is not so yet; alone, even if I see the tears of others and mine, I am not yet able to do so much.

For this I ask You:

Beloved Great Grandmother, the Ancestral, please help the children, new born pups, the young shoots — every form of budding life!

On this beautiful mother planet are too many children, pups, seedlings, who have no protection or food or pure water — don’t have what they need to grow healthy; but even if it were only one who suffered, it would still be too many.  All life deserves protection; and even if it were only one, I pray that they can have the comfort of love, nourishment and protection from all visible or invisible dangers:

Beloved Grand and Ancestral Grandmother, please help all children, all new born pups, the young shoots — every form of budding life!

We humans have lost our common sense and have moved away from wisdom but with your help, oldest Grandma, we may come to remember what our every cell knows about love.

May we soon mature to the time when we are able, like You, to care for all forms of life, care for one another, to protect and honor the Earth with dignity and human respect for every being of Nature and for the Water, and for the Air and Fire and Space. May our thoughts, words and acts be peaceful and loving towards everyone and everything…

 EMAHO !

(Prayer by Doju Freire at the request of M. Marstrand)

 

 

 

Sister, Mother, Bride

Eyes

By Father Michael Holleran

One of the most popular ways of referring to our planet is “Mother Earth”.   There is certainly nothing wrong with this from a Christian standpoint, since it is obviously true. We all come from her womb, receive constant nourishment from her, and return our elements to her at death as a living matrix of recycling energy. Pope Francis does not hesitate to evoke “Mother Nature” in his recent encyclical (#92).

There are other evocative images, however, of a feminine stamp that are associated with the natural world in the Christian tradition. To begin with, theology reminds us that the Creator, while aptly invoked as Father, is, in fact, beyond gender, and is likewise a Mother (Cf. Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, “She Who Is”). In more traditional, biblical language, we have the cosmic figure of Wisdom, feminine in Hebrew (Chokhmah), Greek (Sophia) and Latin, famously presented in Proverbs (8: 22-31). She is God’s companion at Creation, the “first of his works”, “playing” with abandon upon the earth, and “delighting to be with the children of men”. Christian tradition identified this Wisdom with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, since it was feminine, and seemed, at first glance, to be created.   Mary thus rightly achieved a cosmic status, identified with the Eternal Feminine, even and precisely while remaining human. Nonetheless, Christ Himself is the Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24), “the firstborn of all Creation” (Col. 1:15), through whom all things were made (Jn. 1:3). As the second Adam, he contains the eternal feminine in himself, the Church born from his side on the Cross. In turn, Mary is the Mother and Image of the Church, the Bride and Body of Christ, which “fills the universe in all its parts” (Eph.1:22). These dizzying correspondences open an abyss of untold mystical depth. In a real organic sense, the whole Universe is the Body of Christ, and, since we are members of that Body, the Universe is our body, too!   In fact, like a mother, all creation is groaning in labor pains, awaiting the full redemption of the children of God (Rom. 8:22).   Thus, to wound the earth is to wound, not only our mother, but the Body and Bride of Christ! It is to wound our own bodies!

Even the presentation of this Mother Earth as a Goddess, Gaia or otherwise, has vivid and beautiful resonances in our mainstream Western traditions. Our world is a vibrant, breathing organism, as even Plato recognized: a whole net of relationships, as modern physics affirms, and ecology recognizes. Furthermore, in early Christian tradition, the planets have angels associated with them, as do even the elemental forces on earth, such as those in charge of winds or fire in the Book of Revelation (7:1; 17:18). In addition, the alchemical tradition, very well-known in its time, assigned minor spirits to the elements of earth, air, water and fire. All of this subterranean tradition underscores the numinous and sacred quality of the natural world.

Still, Scripture scholars have long pointed out that one of the goals of the often ill-used first chapters of Genesis was to knock the stars and animals off their divine pedestal, to proclaim the unique Creator God. In this perspective, Mother Earth is, above all, a fellow creature, our Sister.   Here, the elements likewise follow their linguistic gender (thus, feminine for the earth). Accordingly, St. Francis himself, in his famous Canticle of the Creatures, the inspiration for the recent encyclical of Pope Francis, refers to “Our Sister, Mother Earth”! Even Mary, as the same Sr. Elizabeth Johnson reminds us, in another of her book titles, is not only our mother, but “Always Our Sister”!

I suggest that these are a wonderful ways to incite our planetary affection and responsibility. They penetrate to the mystical Heart of our religious traditions. For Christians, who would not wish to respect the Body of Christ, in the mountains and rivers, as well as in the Eucharist? And who, in whatever culture, would not wish to protect, defend, care for and love, their sister, their mother, their own bodies? And if we truly esteem them and treat them as such, how can the planet fail to flourish?