As a spiritual practice and an opportunity to intentionally reflect upon our role as keepers of the earth, each week Earth Keepers will email out a passage from an environmental/spiritual writer accompanied by reflection questions and thoughtful prompts. In selecting these passages, Earth Keepers will draw from a wide variety of spiritual traditions as well as focus on various modern environmental issues and challenges. Each week’s reflection will also be accompanied by an important environmental fact as well as practical tips for improving ecological stewardship and our upcoming events. Our weekly reflections offer a great opportunity to grow in your own self-reflection and understanding of modern environmental issues and ethics as well as act as a great discussion tool to use in your spiritual community.
2020 Weekly Reflection Archive
January 6th “The advance needs in dynamic power, in modern times, has been even greater than ponderable things. Even two centuries ago, the energy available for humanity’s work was mainly limited to that obtained from domesticated animals. —Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, Man and the Earth (1905)
January 13th “Conservation is a state of harmony between humanity and the land. Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.” —Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
January 20th “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.” —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 27th “We are built up out of the ground quite as literally as the trees are, but not quite so immediately. The vegetable is between us and the soil, but our dependence is nonetheless real…We are rooted to the air through our lungs and to the soil through our stomachs. We are walking trees and floating plants.” —John Burroughs–The Grist of the Gods, Leaf and Tendril (1908).
February 3rd “The most prosperous nation of today is the United States. Our unexampled wealth and well-being are directly due to the superb natural resources of our country, and to the use which has been made of them by our citizens, both in the present and in the past…Shall we conserve those resources, and in our turn transmit them, still unexhausted, to our descendants?” —Gifford Pinchot, The Fight for Conservation, 1910
February 10th “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to underprivileged, and at the same time protecting nature.” —Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 139.
February 17th “The growing possibility of our destroying ourselves and the world with our own neglect and excess is tragic and very real.” —Rev. Billy Graham, Approaching Hoofbeats
February 24th “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people…Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny. —Jimmy Carter, 1979
March 2nd “I believe that life should be lived so vividly and so intensely that thoughts of another life, or of a longer life, are not necessary.” —Marjory Stoneman Douglas
March 9th “Humanity is now standing at a crossroads. We must now decide which path we want to take. How do we want the future living conditions for all living species to be like?” —Greta Thunberg
March 16th “Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don’t need a diploma to plant a tree.” —Wangari Maathai
March 23rd “Hold up a mirror and ask yourself what you are capable of doing, and what you really care about. Then take the initiative- don’t wait for someone else to ask you to act…..Our past, our present, and whatever remains of our future, absolutely depends on what we do now”. —Sylvia Earle
March 30th “Mother Earth needs us to keep our covenant. We will do this in courts, we will do this on our radio station, and we will commit to our descendants to work hard to protect this land and water for them. Whether you have feet, wings, fins, or roots, we are all in it together.” —Winona LaDuke
April 6th “There must be progress, certainly. But we must ask ourselves what kind of progress we want, and what price we want to pay for it. If, in the name of progress, we want to destroy everything beautiful in our world, and contaminate the air we breathe, and the water we drink, then we are in trouble.” —Marjory Stoneman Douglas
April 13th “Commercial institutions, proud of their achievements, do not see that healthy living systems – clean air and water, healthy soil, stable climates – are integral to a functioning economy. As our living systems deteriorate, traditional forecasting and business economics become the equivalent of house rules on a sinking cruise ship.”—Paul Hawken
April 20th “The ultimate test of a person’s conscience may be their willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”—Senator Gaylord Nelson
April 27th “People often describe natural places–the mountains, waters, deserts, swamps, and forests–as fragile. They mean well; they mean to argue for their preservation. But they do them a disservice. Nature places, ecosystems, are not fragile. They are in the main, tough as an old tire. The capacity of the earth for compensation and forgiveness after repeated abuses has kept the planet alive, but it has also encouraged more abuse.”—“Forty More Years of Crisis” by Randy Lee Loftis with Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in The Everglades River of Grass, 50th Anniversary Edition.
May 4th “The world has been created for everyone’s use, but you few rich are trying to keep it for yourselves. For not merely the possession of the earth, but they very sky, the air, and the sea are claimed for the use of the rich few… The earth belongs to all, not just to the rich.”–Saint Ambrose Bishop of Milan
May 11th “A cool and lovely morning, clear sky, ever-changing freshness of woods and valleys. One has to be in the same place every day, watch the dawn from the same house, hear the same birds wake each morning to realize how inexhaustibly rich and different is “sameness.” This is the blessing of stability, and I think it is not evident until you enjoy it alone in a hermitage. The common life distracts you from life in its fullness. But one must be able to share this fullness, and I am not for a complete and absolute solitude without communication (except temporarily)”.–Thomas Merton from A year with Thomas Merton, Daily Mediations from his journals.
May 18th “In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks. We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view”. -Aldo Leopold, Thinking Like A Mountain, A Sand County Almanac
May 25th “I hope they can see that as a consumer, if they express themselves, they may make an impact and leverage their impact on the brands, and the brands can leverage their buying power on tens of thousands of polluters – suppliers – in China”.–Ma Jun
June 1st “Being a planetary citizen does not need space travel. It means being conscious that we are part of the universe and of the earth. The most fundamental law is to recognize that we share the planet with other beings, and that we have a duty to care for our common home.” —Vandana Shiva
June 8th “Global warming, along with the cutting and burning of forests and other critical habitats, is causing the loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That event was believed to have been caused by a giant asteroid. This time it is not an asteroid colliding with the Earth and wreaking havoc: it is us.” —Al Gore
June 15th “It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”–Sir David Attenborough
June 22nd “The destruction of the earth’s environment is the human rights challenge of our time. Over the 25 years that climate change has been on the world’s agenda Global emissions have risen unchecked while real world impacts have taken hold in earnest. Time is running out. We are already experiencing loss of life and livelihood due to intensified storms, shortage of fresh water, spread of disease, rising food prices, and the creation of climate refugees. The most devastating effects are visited on the poor, those with no involvement in creating the problem. A deep injustice.”–Archbishop Desmond Tutu
June 29th “At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realize I am fighting for humanity”.–Chico Mendes
July 6th “If I could go back to a point in history to try to get things to come out differently, I would go back and tell moses to go up the mountain again and get the other tablet. Because the Ten Commandments just tell us what we are supposed to do with one another, not a word about our relationship to the earth. Genesis starts with these commands: multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it. We have multiplied very well, we have replenished our populations very well, we have subdued it all too well, and we don’t have any other instruction.” —David R. Brower
July 13th “Public discourse about climate change has resulted in the erroneous idea that it’s all about cost, burden and sacrifice. If the math was correct, everyone would see it’s about profit, jobs and competitive advantage.”– Amory Lovins
July 20th “I think people who don’t know the woods very well sometimes imagine it as a kind of undifferentiated mass of greenery, an endless continuation of the wall of trees they see lining the road. And I think they wonder how it could hold anyone’s interest for very long, being all so much the same. But in truth I have a list of a hundred places in my own town I haven’t been yet. Quaking bogs to walk on; ponds I’ve never seen in the fall (I’ve seen them in the summer – but that’s a different pond). That list gets longer every year, the more I learn, and doubtless it will grow until the day I die. So many glades; so little time.”–Bill McKibben
July 27th “Breathing in I see the beautiful leaves. Breathing out I know they are impermanent. Smiling at the nature of change I enjoy their presence even more.”–Thich Nhat Hanh.
August 3rd “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” — Mahatma Gandhi
August 10th “The handling of our forests as a continuous, renewable resource means permanent employment and stability to our country life. The forests are also needed for mitigating extreme climatic fluctuations, holding the soil on the slopes, retaining the moisture in the ground, and controlling the equable flow of water in our streams”. —Franklin D. Roosevelt
August 17th “If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen”.–Henry David Thoreau
August 24th “Humanity is a biological species, living in a biological environment, because like all species, we are exquisitely adapted in everything: from our behavior, to our genetics, to our physiology, to that particular environment in which we live. The earth is our home. Unless we preserve the rest of life, as a sacred duty, we will be endangering ourselves by destroying the home in which we evolved, and on which we completely depend.” —E. O. Wilson
August 31st “It’s time to come together. We all have the power to change, so what are we waiting for?”–Yann Arthus-Bertrand
2019 Weekly Reflection Archive
September 25th “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold, Forward A Sand County Almanac
October 1st “Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead God set before your eyes the things God had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?” St. Augustine
October 8th “Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people. We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family…Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.” Chief Seattle
October 15th “But ask the animals, they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; And the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know, that the hand of the Lord has done this; In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being;” Job 12:7-10
October 22nd “No one ought to advertise in the midst of landscapes and scenery, in such a way as to destroy or injure their beauty by introducing totally incongruous and relatively vulgar associations…the principle on which the thing is done is, to seek the most attractive spot possible–the wildest, the most lovely, and there, in the most staring and brazen manner to paint up advertisements…It is outrageously selfish to destroy the pleasure of thousands, for the sake of a chance of additional gain.” P.T. Barnum, The Humbugs of the World, 1866
October 29th “Be a nuisance when it counts. Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics — but never give up.” Marjory Stoneman Douglas
November 4th “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” John Muir, The Yosemite, 1912
November 18th “Land, water and vegetation are just that dependent on one another. Without these three primary elements in natural balance, we can have neither fish nor game, wild flowers nor trees, labor nor capital, nor sustaining habitat for humans.” Jay Norwood Ding Darling
November 25th “I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with noting definite- only a sense of existence.” Henry David Thoreau
December 2nd “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
December 9th “We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us.” Wendell Berry
December 16th “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” Jane Goodall
December 30th “We don’t see the effects of climate change every single day with our own eyes. We just see this great big ocean–we assume that it’s too big to be wrecked. It’s easy, as a consequence, to dismiss the urgency of the challenge.” President Barack Obama