Healing Mother Earth || By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA

“The earth is wounded,” I said to my Nepalese translator, guide, and micro-hydropower teacher. I was in Nepal to research renewable electrical power options for Afghanistan.

We sat in the bright sun at a small, makeshift outdoor tea shop high in the Himalayan mountains. Electrical wires follow roads, and we’d been discussing the difficulties and challenges of road construction in mountain ranges. Using dynamite, roads are blasted into the toe of a mountain, and if that mountain above the ribbon of concrete isn’t secured through special netting or rocks embedded in concrete, it slides down upon that newly built road—which is why it’s called a “land-slide.”

I sat looking across the valley, where the violent tawny gouge, at least fifty feet tall and as wide, stood out in sharp contrast to its adjacent terrain swathed in forest green. Not just rocks had tumbled, but also soil, which gave life to trees, bushes, worms, insects, and all the animals that fed on that flora (1).

A wounded Earth needs healing, not fixing. Healing can be defined as “the process of making sound or healthy again,” whereas fixing is the action of mending or repairing something, like repairing the hem of your trousers. I couldn’t make that mountainside whole again, but I could work to reduce the risks of that happening further.

International Mother Earth Day, April 22: We are interrelated with all species. When we invest in our planet to heal it, we are healing our human species.

Mangrove forests at the intersection of salt and freshwater provide nurseries for marine life: interconnectedness. Monterrico, Pacific Coast, Guatemala. Photo by Mary Coday Edwards

April 22 is International Mother Earth Day. The theme this year is Invest in Mother Earth. An investment calls for a giving of resources: We invest in our families, in our education, in our homes, and not just financially. We give of ourselves—our time and our energy. I spoke with three environmental professionals: Western U.S. forestry technician Brett Iredell, Northern Arizona environmental scientist Noah Bard, and environmental professional Jody Norris regarding issues about our planet.

Invest in our planet.
“People continue to build near forest edges. As a result, since the 1910s, forest policy has centered around fire suppression versus healthy, natural burns,” said Brett. “Our forests now hold decades of fuel. We need significantly more resources dedicated to forest management for prescribed burns and thinning.”

Invest your energy to create a healthy earth, conscious of its wounding.
Noah said “Be present. Be present to your environment. We are all interconnected. From my backyard, I can see the headwaters of Oak Creek, which eventually flows into the Colorado River. I am aware that everything I do on my property impacts all the streams that flow into the Colorado. So, be present.”

Invest in sustainable mining and renewable energy options.
Jody spoke of potential societal conflicts in the development of our energy options. “Arizona has nine active copper mines. Renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar panels, requires large amounts of copper.” She stressed the need for a win-win situation: sustainable development for both humans AND nature.

How will we as a species move forward, especially facing climate change realities?

“Don’t be realistic! We never know what is possible until we put forth and promote that which is desirable and needed.” – Rabbi Michael Lerner, American Political Activist

This Mother Earth Day, consider investing your energy/life into other groups who support a healing worldview for our planet. Many organizations challenge the status quo—those who put private profit above the common good of all humanity and our nonhuman people.

These groups include:

  • Network of Spiritual Progressives. Its second element of their proposed Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:
    “Corporations with incomes over $50 million per year have to get a new corporate charter every 5 years, which would only be granted to those that could prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens.”
  • Your faith community. See if as an institution, it has issued a statement or gives suggestions on how you can be a part of healing Mother Earth.
  • The Earth Day website as well as the United Nations website on International Mother Earth Day have ideas and links to other pages on what you can do.
  • Explore what your local city or county activist groups have planned for the day or month.
  • Google “environmental groups” and research those whose values align with yours. Participate in their planned events. Read Republicans for Environmental Protection and read of their environmental warriors.

Earth Day calls us to remember Earth’s nurturing and life-giving aspects to all species—human people and nonhuman people, as Potawatomi botany professor Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds us in her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.

Why do we mark International Days?

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. For countries led by dictatorships or nepotism but whose leaders have signed onto international treaties—including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement (often with no plans to implement the treaties)—these international days can provide legitimate opportunities for citizens to demonstrate and defend what these treaties stand for.

Turn turtle: Flip your way of thinking, as I’ve written in my last three blogs. See the world as alive, as interconnected. Pay attention to and watch for potentialities and possibilities. Use your creative imagination to think outside the status quo fed to us repeatedly by our politicians and CEOs. After all, they are the ones who financially benefit from the rest of us when we live as mindless consumers.

Micro-hydropower plant, Afghanistan. Photo by Habib Qaderdan

Notes & Sources:

  1. For more on this topic, see To Travel Well, Travel Light. An Adventure Memoir of Living Abroad and Letting Go of Life’s Trappings: Material Possessions, Cultural Blinders, and a Patriarchal Christian Worldview, by Mary Coday Edwards. Chapter 16, “Peshawar: ‘Why Should We Believe You?’ Renewable Energy,” page 125. SBNR Press, 2022.
  2. Gabel, Peter. The Desire for Mutual Recognition. Social Movements and the Dissolution of the False Self. Rutledge, 2018.
  3. Kripal, Jeffrey J. The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge. Penguin Books. 2019.
  4. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, says mindfulness is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working, and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her spiritual connection at People House and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, where she focused on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels. In addition to working in refugee repatriation, she was an editor for international, English print, daily newspapers in Indonesia and Mexico.