Hello dear ones,
It’s April, the month where we celebrate Earth Day.
I’m as old as Earth Day…it was born the year I was—1970. It was created as a way to bring more awareness to pollution and deforestation at that time.
By now there is so much more that the earth needs from us.
And really, isn’t every day Earth Day?
She holds us 24/7 and she gives and gives to us.
So why do we only have one day devoted to her?
In honor of Earth Day this blog is about Earth’s Grief and how we can tend to that.
Earth grief, or the sorrows of the world, is the third gate of grief according to Francis Weller.
In his book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow, (which I have found to be the best one on grief for me) he writes about the five gates of grief.
You see, grief is like a great hall with many ways to enter it.
The largest and front facing doors are the most obvious ones—death loss, divorce, illness, disability, etc.
But there are back doors, side windows and small cracks—there are many ways to enter into this great hall of grief, which we’ll all enter at some point in our lives.
Earth Grief is the grief we feel because of the destruction that’s happening to our planet.
It also includes our loss of connection with nature itself.
Recently I learned something from Francis that made me pause and really feel my grief for the earth right now.
He was talking about the Anima Mundi or the soul of the world. He said, everything has a soul, including the earth.
I’m an animist so I really get that everything has soul. But my mind and heart expanded a bit more when he said that even the earth has a soul.
And because it has a soul, it too grieves.
I’ll say that again-the Earth grieves.
She grieves just like we do when we lose someone or something special to us.
The earth is suffering…from human made disasters—toxins in mother’s breast milk, plastics in our water, and a huge island of trash in the pacific ocean the size of Texas or bigger, to natural disasters—fires in forests and cities (the Marshall fired recently in my own local area), more extreme temperatures, mud slides, hurricanes, etc. The list could go on and on.
These are the symptoms of the earth’s suffering. And she’s demanding attention and wants a response from us.
And just like we need acknowledgement and witnessing when we are in the pain of grief, the earth needs this too.
This is what made me pause—to know that earth is eager for us to respond to the grief she is experiencing.
So I invite you to turn towards Earth’s grief.
Give her your full attention and acknowledge her pain and suffering.
And here’s a practice to do as suggested to me by Francis Weller who was inspired by Trevi Johnson’s book called Radical Joy for Hard Times.
Find an area near you that’s been destroyed or damaged either by humans or by nature itself.
Go there and start by simply saying hello.
Then simply pause and listen.
Hear what the land has to say to you.
Respond back. Tell her—I see and feel your grief.
Then make an offering of beauty of some kind.
It could be a song you sing, or you could recite a poem, you could bring an offering of nature like flowers or water.
You could create an art mandala (mandala is Sanskrit for circle) out of bits and pieces you find there, such as twigs and rocks. (I highly recommend you only use pieces that have already died. Don’t pick anything living to make art with since there is already so much destruction there).
When you feel done, say thank you.
You can kneel and place your forehead on the ground if that feels right to you.
Or you can lay with your belly on the ground with arms spread wide. I recently did this and it felt as if I was giving Mama Earth a big embrace.
Write about this later and share what you experienced with others. Or even better yet—do this with one other person or a few people, and then gather to share what you heard and experienced there.
And as always, I’d love to hear back from you if you do this.
In my next blog, I will share my own experience.
May you grieve well, be well.
Beth, your friend in grief