April 22 is Earth Day and my b-earth day! This year, however, it doesn’t feel right to simply say “Happy Earth Day!”
Our earth and many of its inhabitants are hurting right now. We’re still in a global pandemic and people are dying. Climate change is a global reality that is threatening life on earth. Police officers in the U.S. continue to regularly kill Black folks, even as one of them is found guilty of murder. Asian American folks are experiencing hate crimes and violence. And on and on.
Life is a lot right now, especially for BIPOC folks who are facing racism, climate catastrophe, COVID, and other struggles in compounded ways. For all of us, this past year has been particularly heavy.
Life is a lot, and yet people are resilient. Our earth and its many ecosystems are resilient. We each have a lot of work to do, but there is hope.
There must be hope, grounded in full consciousness of what is at stake if we let these systems of capitalism and white supremacy continue to dictate how the world works. For those of us with children, hope is particularly essential. The alternative is far too devastating.
How can we rediscover hope when it feels lost in the grief of these times? One place to start is with gratitude. And what better place to seek gratitude on Earth Day than in nature?
I am grateful today for these lessons from nature:
We can learn from the resilience of flowers that grow in cracks on the sidewalk, and from the fruit buds that blossom after a bitter winter of dormancy.
We can gain inspiration from the helpful and beneficial relationships that mycorrhizal fungi build with plant roots, accessing water and nutrients that the plants cannot reach alone.
We can gather strength from the way trees stand strong in the wind, letting some branches adapt to the breeze while remaining true to their roots.
We can learn from the bacteria and fungi and other small beings who co-create fertile soil out of what has died. They help decompose the old to make room for the new and offer protection to new life so that it may flourish.
On Earth Day and every day, nature provides opportunities to reconnect with who we are, what we’re here on earth to do, and how we can serve and support not only all beings on earth today but also future generations of beings who call this planet home.
Today I hope you can go outside, breathe deeply, and find hope and gratitude in nature, even for just a few minutes.
What lesson is nature offering you today that can help you rediscover hope for a more just and regenerative future?
P.S. Speaking of hope and gratitude, I highly recommend learning about The Work That Reconnects (WTR) and the teachings of Joanna Macy. Her book Active Hope: How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy is an excellent resource, as well.