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Mother Earth

To try and keep learning and growing, I am continually reading new spiritual books. In the last 5-10 years most of these books have consistently said that there is an emerging consciousness in the world, aided by science and quantum physics, that calls us to the awareness that we are all One. Of course, you’ve heard me say this 1,000 times, but this will make 1,001 as I to draw our awareness specifically to our Oneness with Mother Earth.

But first let me step back and flesh out the herstory of Mother Earth.

In many, many ancient civilizations people worshipped both a Father Sky God and Mother Earth. In the imaginations of the people, this God and Goddess came together in complementary roles for the renewal of the world. Mother Earth was the body that brought forth life, and Father Sky brought that which helped life to grow – the sun and the rain. Life could not happen without both of them. In these ancient civilizations men and women lived with much more equity, and nature was revered and respected.

But this understanding of the world broke down when invaders from the north moved into the area around the Mediterranean and brought their warrior God – who was similar to the Sky God. In the ancient world, whoever won the battles got to determine what God or Goddess was worshipped. Well, when the warrior/sky God won, Mother Earth, Gaia, the Mother Goddess had to go. Over the course of a few thousand years Mother Earth was demoted, lost her influence and her followers, and finally all but disappeared.

It is easy to see Father Sky in our Bible and in Christianity. Most of us grew up with the image of God being an old guy in the sky. Afterall, the beginning of the Lord's Prayer says, “Our Father who art in Heaven.”  God was in the clouds on the mountaintop. God was above looking down. 

But if you look closely at our scriptures, you can also see vestiges of Mother Earth. The first account of creation speaks of man and woman being created in “our” image.  Wisdom – or Hokmah in Hebrew – was a female figure, the Divine artisan at the side of Yahweh when all was created (Proverbs 8), but the church hardly ever talks about herl. Job 12 gives us images of the animals and trees, birds and fish being our teachers… but, of course, these are now under the jurisdiction of Yahweh, the new and improved Father Sky.

In conjunction with Greek philosophy beginning a few hundred years before Jesus, Father Sky God became connected with a spirituality of the intellect. Philosophers elevated spirit over flesh, and reason over emotions. Philosophers like Plato saw the authentic soul as incarnated as male. The shift in thought made our base instincts and sexual relationships into hedonistic desires that could not possibly be of God, but must be tempered and controlled, in part by controlling women.

We all know that our world is currently at a crisis point. The UN issued a report last week, compiled by 450 researchers around the world and approved by representatives from all 109 UN countries that about a million plants and animals are in danger of becoming extinct because we have significantly altered or destroyed their habitats. We have over fished, we are changing the climate with the use of fossil fuels, and we are polluting our water and land. Add to this human trafficking, genital mutilation of young girls in Africa, and the continuing efforts to subjugate women in multiple ways.

Perhaps this sounds simplistic, but it seems to me that if we hadn’t stopped worshipping Mother Earth somewhere along the way, we might still recognize that our planet and everything and everyone on it is sacred and interconnected.

It is time to bring back the balance:

  • If we’re going to keep our Father Sky God, it is time to reinstate Mother Earth to her equal position
  • The understanding of the connection of our bodies, minds and spirits is becoming more and more accepted and understood, but this needs to be honored in religion as well
  • We must lose the dualism of spirit/physical, intellect/emotion, male/female, human/animal
  • We need to stop looking up for God, heaven or the sacred. We need to look around and see God! Richard Rohr said that “Everything visible is the outpouring of God.”

So, here’s something we can each do to start regaining the balance: we need to love nature (and frankly, other people) for itself. Theologian Sallie McFague talks about looking at nature with a loving eye instead of an arrogant eye. The arrogant eye sees with an acquiring eye, a greedy eye that wants more and more, it objectifies, manipulates and seeks to control for personal gain. The arrogant eye denies difference and different needs.

Here’s an example of the arrogant eye. Joyce Rupp, in her book, Boundless Compassion, shares that one summer she directed a retreat at a lovely spirituality center with a new pond nearby. The first evening a symphony of various kinds of frogs croaked and “ribbeted” in the water, lulling her to sleep. Imagine her surprise the next morning when one of the participants approached her angrily, asking, “What was that horrible sound coming from outside all night?” Joyce explained about the pond and the frogs, to which the woman demanded, “You’ve got to get rid of them. Can’t you just kill them?”

The loving eye, on the other hand, acknowledges complexity, mystery and difference. It knows that there are boundaries that exist between the self and the other, and that needs and interests may be different.

Joyce Rupp tells another story that shows what having a loving eye looks like. There was a “giant and fearsome Irishman,” a violent offender in an Australian prison. This man’s job entailed shooting cows as part of a work program in the prison’s slaughterhouse. He had no problem stunning and killing animals, until one day a cow came into the stainless-steel funnel where the animals stood as they were being shot. On that particular day, this cow walked in slowly, “lifted her head and stared at her executioner, absolutely still. The Irishman was so overcome, he couldn’t lift his gun; nor could he take his eyes away from the eyes of the cow. He couldn’t tell how long it took, but as the cow held him in eye contact, he noticed something that shook him even more. The cow began to cry; first the tears came from the left eye, and then the right. The water trickled down her face. The man could not bear what he was seeing. He fell down on his knees, and vowed never to kill anything again.”

For balance and harmony to exist on the earth, all people and all things must be aware of the intrinsic value in the other and be aware of how the choices we make affect one another. We are all one. We can not do something in this world without it having ripple effects. Some of which we may not even recognize for generations to come.

Remember Mother Earth. Remember that we are One. Perhaps one day, this will lead us to live in harmony.

Love & Light!