Mother Earth: With greatest respect

Mother Earth

There are two prayers I love which both connect me to Mother Earth.

The first is one my uncle said, as a grace before we ate as a family.

I loved the rhythm of this prayer and although I do not recall the exact words, he would begin by giving thanks to God the Creator for the abundance on the table and the people who had prepared the meal.

His words then moved to praise each direction of the earth, the North, South, East, and West, acknowledging each direction for the gifts they gave. It has been over fifteen years since I heard that prayer, but I can still feel the rhythm.

The other prayer is St Francis of Assisi’s, Canticle of the Sun.

Dad loved this prayer, and it reminds me of him as he was a gardener, he planted trees, recycled, composted, and looked after the piece of land we were living on at the time.

The Canticle of the Sun praises God the Creator, the Sun and Moon, the elements of nature, water, fire, air and Earth, our mother.

In 2015, in his plea to everyone to take responsibility for the impact of pollution and climate change, Pope Francis opened his letter Laudato Si’ with the Canticle of the Sun.

This letter, which is so worth reading, acknowledges that “never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years”.

Living on the coast, we see first-hand the impact of pollution and climate change.

Although we fish, collect seaweed for the garden and gather wood after a storm, the beach is often littered with refuse from burst landfills, plastic rubbish, an oil spill six years ago, and recently hundreds of shellfish, dead from unknown sources.

There are fewer birds arriving to feed at the Manawatu Estuary and the Manawatu River carries treated sewage, farm runoff and industrial waste into the Tasman Sea.

The River Loop at Foxton, which was the former path for the Manawatu River has been suffering for years.

After many years of local iwi and people from the community battling to reconnect the River Loop to the Manawatu River, funding from the Government resulted in a small part of the restoration of this taonga, a beginning at last.

The story of the Manawatu River and the River Loop is about protecting and caring for Mother Earth not about dominating her.

I am in awe of the people who continually fight and inform the government, in their effort to have policies that will save and protect Mother Earth.

The responsibility is huge, as, alongside the fight for environmental justice, there is the impact of the social consequences if the fight does not continue.

I will do what I can to protect Mother Earth despite it feeling minimal.

I will keep picking rubbish up along the beach on our daily walks.

I will keep a garden, grow trees, and talk about pollution and climate change.

I will keep praying the Canticle of the Sun and feel the rhythm of my uncle’s prayer. It gives me focus and it reminds me of the many gifts Mother Earth continues to give us, and the need to keep treating her with the greatest respect she deserves.

  • Suzane O’Kane is a wife, mother and grandmother. She lived on the Horowhenua Coast and is a parishioner of St Mary’s Church, Foxton.
Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: , , ,