What you love, you care for
Throughout the ages mystics, poets, authors, musicians, prophets and voices from all centuries have championed for the care of the Earth. There has never been a time so critical as now to participate in the healing of our planet. Climate change threatens all created species and at the beginning our human story we were given a mandate to Kaitiaki Pāpātuanuku.
Thomas Berry, Catholic Priest and poet penned a poem titled ‘What does the Earth want?’
To be seen in her loveliness, to be tasted in her deliciousness.
To be listened to in her teaching, to be endured in the severity of her discipline.
To be experienced as the maternal source whence we came, to the destiny to which we return.
Sally McFague, eco-theologian and eco-feminist goes a little further in her use of metaphor by personalising the World as ‘the sacrament... the visible, physical, bodily presence of God.’ She goes on to claim that ‘nature is the new poor.’
This use of personal pronoun and metaphor in describing Earth and her needs enables us to connect at a deeper and more engaged level to her and all created beings that call her home. As we begin to do so, owning our own part to play in her destruction and her healing, the invitation comes to care for her as ‘one we love.’
We can truly only love something or someone we experience first-hand. In the 12th Century, Francis of Assisi is attributed to having a very mystical and personal relationship with the created world. His beautiful Canticle of the Sun reflects this as he honours and praises his Brothers Sun, Wind and Fire, his Sisters Moon, Water and his Sister Mother Earth.
Father Eric Doyle wrote:
"Though physically blind, he was able to see more clearly than ever with the inner eye of his mind. With unparalleled clarity he perceived the basic unity of all creation and his own place as a friar in the midst of God’s creatures. His unqualified love of all creatures, great and small, had grown into unity in his own heart. He was so open to reality that it found a place to be at home in his heart and he was at home everywhere and anywhere. He was a centre of communion with all creatures.
When Francis heard God say ‘Restore my Church’ he set out to do so by living amongst and speaking on behalf of the poor, and he extended that to include care of the created world. This was his interpretation of the call he had received. Perhaps the invitation here for us is also to consider how we engage with, care for and love our neighbor which includes all created beings.
How then do we care for the Earth? How do we give her what she needs?
Perhaps the words of Psalm 102:18 give us a clue, ‘Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.’ If we love what we care for, we will extend that to future generations. We will love our earth because she nourishes and cares for us, and because she is the home of those to come.
In this way may we be the best ancestors we can be, and may our descendants speak well of us.