Scripture ~ “In hope,that creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Roman’s 8:20b-21
Spiritual Focus ~ “Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.”
St. Francis of Assisi from “The Canticle of Creatures”
Breath Prayer ~ Hope Springs Eternal
Devotion ~ In the Franciscan order there is a rule that says no tree may be cut down without the permission of the Superior. The idea behind this rule is that nature is not just here for our consumption and profit but is part of the creative nature of God. The rule goes on to make clear that nature should not be seen as a commodity, but as a gift. When seen through spiritual eyes and with a contemplative mind, the earth, the universe as we know it, becomes a reflection of the very image of God. In “The Canticle of Creatures,” St. Francis famously addresses Brother Sun, Sister Fire, Brother Wind and Sister Water earning him the title of patron saint of ecology and care for creation.
Last week we meditated on the idea of hope and the beauty often witnessed in creation. One example of caring for creation on a national scale dates back to the 1960s and the work of Former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. She made beautifying our nation her platform while in office because she believed planting flowers, trees and picking up trash could improve mental health. Her work with conservationism is still evident today in the National Park Service. More recently during the pandemic, air quality improved and water became less polluted because we were consuming less, thus restoring our natural energy and resources. Inspired by these results, organizations around the world are studying ways to improve and sustain energy using this information.
Our annual day to respect the earth is April 22nd, Earth Day. There will be all kinds of opportunities to practice karma yoga, or the yoga of service. Karma is often misrepresented as “what goes around, comes around.” However, karma yoga as derived from Hinduism is the path of unselfish acts; to act without expectation of reward and out of the duty to put others’ needs before our own. In the Bhagavad Gita karma yoga is believed to purify the mind. One could think of this purification as a means to improve our mental health. When we see with spiritual eyes, we regard the earth as God’s very body. We are moved to praise God and act to beautify the earth. Perhaps our yoga for this week should be to pick up trash, plant a tree, or ride our bikes instead of driving our car. Perhaps we should practice this kind of yoga more than just one day a year.