Earth is always there for us. She is inescapable. She feeds us and provides all that we need.
Are we there for Earth?
Since you’re reading this blog, chances are that you are there for Earth as much as you feel you can be. I know that I’m as fanatical of a recycler and canvas bag user as I can be, but there are still many more ways that I can be a better steward and caregiver for Earth. I don’t drive a hybrid. I don’t own a bike. I fly on airplanes when I need to travel long distances. I don’t always buy organic (even assuming the label makes any appreciable difference for Earth), and there are always products that I buy that are wrapped in enough plastic to fortress a small town.
We’re somewhat trapped in a society that requires that we partake in this wasteful consumption. But what I do have choice over is that I avoid unnecessary consumption, I choose products with less packaging when I have a choice, and I’ve given up animal meat. It is always an ongoing challenge and opportunity to continue to find more ways to care for Earth physically.
Earth doesn’t just provide us food and shelter, Earth provides emotional and spiritual support. Earth makes us feel better just by being outside, and especially when we vacation to the places she is particularly glorious. Her creatures are our comfort, companions, recreation and entertainment, and her flora feels healthy and nurturing when we are in its presence. Earth inspires us to be better, to do better, to feel better, and to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.
In other words, Earth cares for us in a holistic way, providing for us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Where are we in this respect? Can we be more holistic in the way we provide for Earth?
The primary arguments and resistance (even my own) about Earth’s physical care include lack of time and money, among other things. In contrast, providing for Earth mentally, emotionally, and spiritually need not take any time or money at all.
What does it mean to provide for Earth mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?
What would it mean to care for any loved one in this manner?
If we use a metaphor of a favorite family member who has fallen ill, we can easily make the connection as to how we might care for Earth in a more balanced and wholesome way. Our favorite Aunt Ginny is ill. What do you do?
You rush to her side.
You put away your devices and give her your undivided attention.
You notice how she’s looking – she’s looking worn out and tired.
You brush her hair or hold her hand. Maybe tidy her room so she’s more comfortable.
You tell her how beautiful she is to you, even though she is ailing, because she is.
You tell her how much you love her and that you are grateful for the many ways that she’s cared for you your whole life.
You sing her a song or read her a poem. Even better, you wrote them in her honor and about how she has helped you to become the person that you are.
You pray or meditate for her healing.
You repeat as often as possible, and bring your loved ones with you to participate.
What does this cost? How long does it take? What are the possible benefits?
When caring for my beloved Christopher while he was in the final stage of cancer, I knew that this care was just as important as the physical care. What good is medical care and diet if the patient has to return to neglectful and even abusive treatment from her loved ones?
What if instead Earth knew that her healing would be celebrated and that she would no longer have to endure our mistreatment once she’s healed?
My version of this care is that I take time every day to just be with nature. Whenever I can, I sit outside and just be present. If I’m running around, this means clearing my mind when I’m outdoors and notice the trees, birds, sky, wind, flowers, even if it’s just going to and from my car. It means that I take a moment to notice Earth when I’m near a window, and to observe something beautiful about her, and tell her she’s gorgeous. I add her to my daily meditations and prayers. For fun, I did a dance for her, imagining I was cradling her in my arms as I felt my love for her.
I understand that not everyone will find this narrative compelling. After all, I can’t prove that Earth feels this way, and thus can’t prove that this kind of care would benefit Earth, and by extension, us. But science proves that this kind of behavior benefits us directly because when we’re with nature and fostering that connection, it improves our mental, emotional, and physical health. You can read some of the literature, starting with the list below if you don’t believe me.
In other words, this kind of care takes no time, no money, will benefit you, and if we’re lucky, can make a big difference towards Earth’s ability to heal herself.
Join me. What are you waiting for?
Friedman, LF, Loria, K. 11 scientific reasons you should be spending more time outside Business Insider, Tech Insider, Apr 22, 2016.
Pearson DG, Craig T. The great outdoors? Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments. Front Psychol. 2014;5:1178. Published 2014 Oct 21. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01178
Suttie, J. How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative. Greater Good Magazine, March 2, 2016.