The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world and all who dwell therein.
For it is God who founded it upon the seas
and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.
— Psalm 24
People — individually and as members of families, neighborhoods, churches, spiritual communities, cities, towns, villages, states and nations — are beginning to realize that our wonderful blue-green planet will not much longer support a humanity that continues to consume, pollute, poison and destroy its own life support system, even though many individuals believe their own lifestyles “don’t really do that much harm.”
Our island home is quickly losing the ability to heal from this incessant abuse and neglect — or to maintain an environment that nurtures the spectacular spectrum of life. Small and large ecological systems are breaking down, dying and disappearing at a rapid rate.
This resulting species extinction is quickly erasing billions of years of God’s creative processes that brought forth such an abundance of life. The earth suffers from more than human-induced climate change. It reels from widespread, total ecosystematic breakdown. This threatens the elimination of human beings, not to mention all the animals and plants.
More and more, people are becoming aware of this unfolding crisis, and intend to make a difference and “save the earth.” They have good intentions, but intentions alone are not enough. They must have the willingness to put their intentions into action in significantly meaningful ways — not just today, but for rest of their lives. The way to sustain these intentions for long periods of time is to ground and root them in spirituality.
Individuals are challenged to embrace deep ecologically sound living as a spiritual discipline. The struggle to put their faith into action can only be accomplished through the power of the love that encourages, nurtures and creatively leads us to live in closer harmony with all of creation. God’s love for creation, our love of God, love of all our neighbors and the transforming power of love.
In our global society, where people speak nearly 7,000 languages, there is a new spiritual language that unites all earthlings as they experience the wonders of creation and the web of life that connects all living beings. This new language is the science of ecology and nature wisdom — the language of the elders who, for hundreds of generations, have lived in harmony with the natural world. This word transcends all artificial and human-made divisions — and all differences of religion.
In a totally new manner, this word of love unites us to each other, to our world and with God. The words of this spiritual language speak to us of our dependence on nature and upon each other. The sentences tell of dire ecological situations. The paragraphs unfold with ideas of the hope for human beings to live simply, working with the renewing, creative, greening, regenerative power of God through the power of spirit and love.
In 2010, the late author and ecological advocate Ernest Callenbach wrote “The 10 Commandments of Mother Earth.” I modified these slightly for use in my own ministry, and offer them in closing because walking any spiritual path involves living an ecologically sound life, honoring and caring for creation.
1. Love the earth for it is the creator’s gift to all that lives.
2. Live each day sacredly and take joy in the earth’s wonders.
3. Honor all life forms striving to keep them from extinction.
4. You shall remember to give thanks to the creatures and plants that nourish you.
5. Do not burden the earth with overpopulation.
6. You shall not waste or kill the earth’s creature and riches with war.
7. Do not profit at the earth’s expense but strive to restore its damaged majesty.
8. Do not hide from yourself or others the consequences of human actions upon the earth.
9. Do not steal from future generations by impoverishing or poisoning the earth.
10. Consume material goods in moderation so that all may share in the earth’s bounty.
• Rev. Roger Wharton served Juneau’s episcopal churches before leaving to study biblical nature wisdom and spiritually based environmentalism. On May 16-19, he will return to lead spiritual nature events. Details at trinityjuneau.org. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.