Happy 50th Earth Day!
In my blip of existence so far, just under 30 years, I have had the gift of truly enjoying our Mother Earth. I grew up surfing and roaming outside on my step-dad’s unfenced acres of land with my dog. Between the ages of 8-15 years, I had a huge isolated boulder on a hill I would climb to the top to find solitude. I found a lot of growth on that boulder that I called “my rock.” I didn’t know I was laying the groundwork for my spiritual evolution or meditative practice, but I was always called to the earth to heal myself and to help her heal. As are all humans, if we are really honest with ourselves. And when there was a crisis, I would go to the sea. Sometimes it felt like I couldn’t breathe until I hit the water. And it sometimes it feels like that today too.
I got to have amazing adventures on Mother Earth. I went to China before the Three Gorges dam was put in as a child. I marveled at their culture, their food, and struggled with being stopped in public and asked to take pictures because my fair hair and blue eyes were considered auspicious. I still wonder if there are rural shrines or altars in China with pictures of 10 year old me looking irritated AF, only feeling so encroached upon and not being able to understand their perspective at that age. I studied abroad in Venice, Italy, with my bedroom on the Grand Canal. I watched the sunrise from our dock over the canal and memorized the twists and turns of our road-less cobble stone neighborhood. I got caught in the rain in Slovenia looking for our hostel singing Disney songs into the mists as we walked where there were no sidewalks and no fences in between yards. I cried with rapture at the beauty of the gorge in Lake Bled. I ate delectable chocolate and swam in my underwear in Lake Geneva, the clearest water I may have ever felt on my skin. I pet stray cats all over Istanbul and received help from some of the kindest people despite the language barrier when our paper directions got thrown away. I fell in love with the Greek country side and the ruins of the ancients, and thought how parts of the landscape reminded me of my home in Southern California. I stayed out too late having fun in igloo-like and after-hours bars in Rome, felt the sweat on my skin standing in the Colosseum as if I was a gladiator waiting to spring, and channeled fallen soldiers in a memorial with a friend. I tasted whiskey in Scotland and was given money by an Irish man in a Dublin pub as an apology for his rude friend. I saw where Harry Potter was filmed in Oxford and fed squirrels in a London Park.
My heart soared seeing the Birth of Venus by Botticelli in Florence, drank wine on the steps, and wondered how I could find a way to spend more time in the city. I met coffee farmers and visited a women led co-op in Chiapas Mexico. I cried in a Mexican play about the reality for Mexican immigrants chasing the “American Dream” and was in awe with the ornamented cathedrals, and rainbow colored buildings along the cobble stone roads. I was led through a Mayan Ritual in Mayan ruins by their descendants and made friends with one little girl without exchanging a single word. I heard the whales sing as I snorkeled in Maui and watched the rainbows form over me as I hiked her mountains alone.
I snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef with manta rays and sea turtles, hiked in the Valley of the Rainbow Serpent, listened to the Aboriginals tell some of their culture and their dreamscapes, and celebrated my 21st birthday. I surfed and lost my board in a swell in Bali. When I washed up to shore, the Chinese tourists applauded me and I bowed for them on the sand. I drank the “cat poop” coffee in the Indonesian mountains, got a reading Ketut Lier, and laughed until my whole body hurt. I was brought to tears with the beauty of a tucked back wat in Chiang Mai, Thailand, finally had my mermaid dreams realized scuba diving off Koh Phi Phi, and got lost in the jungle looking for our hostel in Krabi.
I have adventured all over this planet and still plan for more. I am grateful for every inch of the Earth and her people. I have experienced her bounty and I have pledged myself to Mother Earth and Mother Ocean over and over again. I had waves tattooed on my body as a symbol of my devotion. If it isn’t fitting that the 50th Earth Day is celebrated when we are finally coming to understand the importance of her in our planetary lockdown when we are separated from her ever-present nurturing and healing.
The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to her. We need to understand our role: we are stewards of the Earth. We are not the masters. What is the definition of stewardship? Merriam-Webster definition says “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” The Earth is entrusted into our care by our grandchildren and their grandchildren and their grandchildren, as it has always been.
So today, if no other day, imagine yourself rippling a wave of gratitude over the Earth, your home, our first mother to give us life as one species. Imagine your gratitude like a pink cloud around the Earth and see it rain down love, gratitude, and healing into her soils, her waters, and into her people. Give gratitude that she has never even come close to casting us out despite our abuse and taking her for granted but instead, in the Earth’s unconditional abundance, she has adjusted and made space for us to learn this lesson gently. We are being invited back into her arms and back into ourselves.
And so it is.