Caring for Earth: A Gift and A Burden

Winter BerriesIt has been snowing, intermittently, for most of the past week. We have also experienced freezing rain, sleet, and, very briefly, just plain rain. It is warm, compared to the historical norm, resulting in the periods of mixed precipitation rather than just snow. Had it been all snow we would be housebound.

I’m sitting by the wood stove. It took a while to get it roaring; now the heat is finally taking the chill from the house. I appreciate the deep warmth that comes from burning wood, and the high-efficiency of this stove; we get warmth while using relatively little fuel. The dancing flames are a bonus.

My parents remembered the winter evenings of their youth, spent by open hearths, with fondness. Stoves and fire places were not efficient; they required many chords of wood be gathered, split, and stacked each year. Families carefully managed their lands, maintaining the health of the trees, water, and soil upon which their lives depended. To run out of wood for cooking and heat was to suffer, and in winter, to risk death. Gifted persons felt and respected the pulse of the land, dreaming the flow of energy and information through the biosphere; this helped them survive difficult times.

I believe most people sense the heartbeat and mood of the World in some way, perhaps unconsciously. As we are all connected to, and expressions of, Pachamama, the great being who lends us life, it makes sense we might know her moods and needs. Given we are her offspring, does it not make sense that we might feel her pain, that her suffering might also become our own? If indeed we share her anguish, surely our personal healing journeys must include addressing in some way the suffering of the Planet.

Increasingly, that pain finds its way into psychotherapy sessions and healing ceremonies. How often do we speak of feeling “torn, ripped open, exposed” by experiences in our lives? Aren’t these also descriptors for the effects of invasive extractive technologies? I was told by my teachers, and my dreams, that mining, quarrying, and drilling cause harm to the Planet, and that Pachamama feels these things as intensely painful. As a result, many Indigenous peoples of North America have evolved rules that strictly limit mining and other extractive technologies. Yet, these are not the values of the dominant culture, and there are increasingly few places left in the world where the skin of the Earth remains largely intact.

As the children of Pachamama, we are offered the task of caring for one another and the planet, and in so doing, showing our gratitude for our very lives. This is both a burden and a gift, a source of sorrow and joy. As we enter the heart of this sacred season, may we remember this. May we care deeply for all who are in harm’s way, and give gratitude and healing to our Mother, Pachamama.

In keeping with the theme of caring, I encourage you to visit A Holistic Journey’s series of posts about making a difference in difficult times. Holistic Wayfarer introduces the series with these words:

Though we may not be able to rescue everyone from cold, hunger, sickness, or loneliness, we can make a profound difference in so many ways. I name the stories you are about to hear the Candlelight Series after Eleanor Roosevelt who sought “to light candles rather than curse the darkness.” We’ll catch a glimpse of the hands that have lit the way for those frozen in the dark. Of people who chose to see the suffering and meet it with love, who decided they would be the right person to come along. People like the teachers and principal Dasani so desperately needs. We pay homage to those who helped us survive the night by candlelight.


9 thoughts on “Caring for Earth: A Gift and A Burden

  1. A beautiful opening, Michael, and certainly true: “most people sense the heartbeat and mood of the World in some way”. Thank you so much for the PR. Quite a show of trust, when you haven’t seen the first of the series yet. =) In the spirit of your post, I hope we can remind ourselves of our connectedness this season. If you don’t mind replacing my name with my username Holistic Wayfarer, that would be great.


  2. We are expecting our first snow in the San Bernardino Mts this afternoon. It is always exciting unlike the snow in February. Hearts tend to open during this season. We extend our hands to strangers and those in need more eagerly than during the rest of the year. Would that this happened each day of the year. Thank you for introducing Holistic Wayfarer. I read some of her posts and hit the follow button. May this season be one of peace and joy for you and all those whom you touch. Many blessings, Gretchen.

    1. Gretchen, I hope you have a perfectly lovely early season storm, and that the snow stays for a while. We are having a small thaw, perhaps followed by a storm or two. We shall see. We are wishing and hoping the snow does not all melt away. I am glad you liked Holistic Wayfarer’s blog, as it has become one of my must reads.

  3. Beautiful post Michael….I feel her pain and at the same time feel helpless to stop it, to make it better. An uncomfortable reality about the way we use the earth in these times.

    1. Thanks, greenmackenzie! We are wrapping presents, chatting, and soon, heading for bed. Nine o’clock feels like eleven. The night is deep and dark. I was chatting with our rabbi the other day. We agreed that the Creator has a plan, although her time scale is much longer than we humans can comprehend. My teachers used to remind me incessantly the world is as it is and we can only do as we can. Yet, we are called to do what we are able. Who knows how we may influence events, if not now, somewhere in the unknown future? Still, these are heartbreaking times, and being human, we face them with much suffering and trepidation. Still, we are invited to find joy, a most subversive act.

  4. Important to forget the human world. Recently i made futile attempts to cooperate with others. Inspired me to forget everyone else and practice what is necessary to maintain relations with “heartbeat and mood of world.”

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