Prophets are important people in any society, often ignored and sometimes even persecuted because their message is usually an uncomfortable and unpalatable one. They say it as it is; they recognise evil for what it is - a degradation of what can and should be; they name evil in order to reveal the alternative; they appeal to our better selves; they shake us out of our complacency and challenge us to change our ways. Prophets are able to listen to the cries of the poor, the marginalised, the disadvantaged, those who cannot speak out for themselves. In this case and at this time it’s our planet that’s being ignored. What would it say to us if we were really attentive to its cries, if we could feel its pain and understand the consequences of our actions?
It so happens I’ve been reading Active Hope, How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy by Joanna Macey and Chris Johnstone. I’ve been reading it with a group of sisters from my community. It’s an excellent book which encourages us to honour the pain of our world in order to bring about its transformation. Throughout the book there are exercises to help us appreciate and get inside the message of the book. This week’s exercise is to imagine what the Earth might say through us. The instruction is to write a letter to ourselves that begins “ Dear Isabel, This is your mother Gaia writing …………..” without thinking too much about it but allowing our words flow quite naturally. Here’s my attempt at the exercise.
This is your mother Gaia writing. I want you to know how precious you are to me and how dearly I love you. I have called you forth from the beginning of time, led you through many stages of evolutionary growth and given you form at this particular time in history. And so too I love all your sisters and brothers whom I have watched over from that moment when humanity started on its evolutionary journey. I have watched you make mistakes, develop new skills and aptitudes, cooperate and live in new ways, engage in deep philosophical debate, invent new and complex systems for living together and making sense of life. I have watched you mature and reach for the stars. But I have also watched you forget your origins and your place in this magnificent blue planet which is unique in our wonderful solar system.
I have watched you forget that you are interrelated not just with other human beings but with all sentient creatures. Together with them you are made of stardust, you share many DNA characteristics with them, you depend on them for the health and well-being of our world. You depend on the trees and plants which beautify our world for the very air you breathe. Without them there would only be a toxic gas that would poison all life. You have sought to use other creatures and living things for your own good. You who are the creatures who have given this planet consciousness have forgotten your stewardship of it. You have forgotten your immense power and ability to live in harmony with nature, to work with it rather than against it.
I feel the pain of this so deeply. I hear the cries of the creatures who have become extinct and those for whom extinction is a real possibility at this moment in time. I feel the pain of the Great Forests that are being cut down for profit, the use of fossil fuels that are breaking down the ozone layer. My heart cries as I watch weather systems go awry with flooding and overheating. I hear so much pain and my heart bleeds for you all. Sometimes I fear for your future, especially when I look upon the joy and innocence of your children.
And yet I have great trust in you and all humanity. There are so many concerned people whose eyes have been opened to see things in a new light – to recognise the interrelatedness of all life, to recognise themselves as part of a great system of life and not above it, to see clearly how their actions can have consequences for good or for ill. So many of you are working together to turn this earth towards its true destiny which is one of health and wellbeing in both big and small ways. I want you to recognise your beauty and your power, your ability to do great things for the world in the way you live your life day by day and moment by moment. I want you to be encouraged by my love and desire for your future, my belief in you and support for all the positive steps you take.
I do not despair. I trust you and know you can treat the earth with the love and respect it deserves. Listen to its cries, wonder at its beauty, tread its paths with gentleness and reverence, live life simply and joyfully. The future is in your hands.”