A Franciscan Heart for Mother Earth
I like to say I was born Catholic but raised Franciscan. My early education was at institutions sponsored by wonderful Franciscan Sisters. It is my Franciscan heart that leads me to love and service. It is also my Franciscan heart that often makes me weep for our dear Mother Earth.
The term “Mother Earth” was likely first coined by St. Francis of Assisi in his Canticle of the Sun. He says Mother Earth sustains us through what she produces for us. Pope Francis then uses this phrase several times in his encyclical Laudato Si`. Francis might be the first Pope to actually use the term Mother Earth in an encyclical. It causes me to wonder and maybe hope that this "new" language of the Earth as our Mother might jolt us into action.
We all know that there is a problem. The climates of our seasons are off. Ice is melting into the ocean. The ocean is filled with plastic that won't decompose. Movies are made about the future where humanity has had to leave Earth because it's a wasteland (see WALL*E).
And yet, people say "well what's the point? Not everyone is gonna stop so neither will I".
This is the mindset we have about our Mother Earth.
Some might see this terminology as "hokey" or "hippie". But it works. Our mothers feed, clothe, care for us and so much more. Where do they get the food from, but the plants that our Mother Earth grows with her fertile soil and shining sun, or the animal who themselves bask in that sun and graze in those plants? How could our mothers clothe us without the cotton fields or the sheep's wool? Where does our water come from, but her vast, blue oceans? This designation of our Earth as our Mother brings us back to those roots that are so hidden by production and stores and faucets from which we Westerners in particular are often removed. There is a disconnect now and we must reestablish those connections to move forward.
Our mothers take care of us but there is a time when it is our turn to take care of them. Our Mother Earth needs that care now. She continues to do her best to sustain us but she needs our help so that she can continue.
We don't need an "Earth Day" where we turn off electricity for 24 hours; we don't need an "Earth Month" where we pick up trash and recycle for 31 days. We need a real, honest, practical commitment from every single person. We need support companies that are using reusable aluminum bottles for soaps, laundry pods that eco-friendly. We need a commitment to educate ourselves how to actually recycle and even how to compost. We need to make a change.
How? How do we start to fix something that seems to have gotten so broken? Well, we just have to start. Start by doing one thing and invite someone else along with you. I have been doing my best to purchase fewer plastic bottles – I use shampoo bars and refillable containers for hand soap. I have also been going eco-friendly with laundry detergent from a pack my aunt shared with me. These changes may seem small. But if we all keep making them together, we will make a difference.