I’m writing with the use of one eye only as yesterday I was stung on the face by a very angry bee and it has resulted in swelling to the extent that my left eye is but a slit today. I am uncomfortable and somewhat irritated, but the show must go on. The spell of beautiful weather that we have recently been blessed with here in Perth has retreated. As I sit here, the wind is howling, and the rain is beating loudly against the windows of my study. But I will not be deterred.
Queen of the May
Today my mission is to capture, in not so many words, why I believe we need to revere our planet and Mother Nature. The month of May takes its name from the Roman goddess, Maia, who represents spring and fertility. It is a time for us to be reminded of the wonder of our world and treat it with awe and respect. This month has lots of meaning for me personal for three reasons:
- I stopped drinking for good on May 13th
- I celebrate my wedding anniversary on the 14th, and
- On the second Sunday in May every year since becoming a mother I get spoilt by my kids to mark Mother’s Day.
I guess you could say it’s my favourite month.
Funnily enough, my two sisters also got married in May. One of the hymns we had at our church wedding 16 years ago was The Queen of the May. We chose it for its celebration of nature and its sweet reminder of the blossoms that adorn and enhance the landscapes of the world. There are only a couple of things that have really helped me deal with the uncertainty and anxiety of social isolation: being with my family and being amongst nature.
Planet of the humans
We are at an important crossroads in time because of the coronavirus. It is providing us with a unique opportunity to reflect on the things that are important to us and the role we each play in making sure our planet is sustainable for the long term. We watched the latest offering from American producer and activist, Michael Moore, over the weekend and I have to say I felt somewhat overwhelmed by the arguments put forward in his documentary, Planet of the Humans. Among other things, it looks at the threat of human extinction based on our uncontrolled population growth and our rampant consumption of things whose production requires obscene amounts of energy which is leading to global warming and climate change causing our eco-systems to collapse and dwindle. Sadly, renewable energy is still not quite where it should be, and we continue to rely on fossil fuels to satiate our relentless hunger for energy.
Now that we have been forced to do without many of the things that we had grown accustomed to valuing such as international travel, eating in expensive restaurants and buying un-needed clothes and handbags, we realise that our lives are no less joyful without them. Knowing that many people have lost their jobs is a wake-up call to the rest of us to go cautiously and review how we spend our money. Do we really need to keep spending in order to find happiness? In a recent study of 21 billionaires, it was clear that money and spending it are not the key to happiness. Having choices, opportunities and strong personal relationships are what make a person feel as though they are living their best life. I get this. It’s about feeling empowered to make decisions about our life and not being forced into doing something against our will. Nobody wants to live a life of less because they are forced to. But given the choice and the truth about what’s happening to our planet as a result of our actions, more people might choose to live a life of less. The days of ostentatious living and over-consumption are surely numbered if we are to think long term about the health of our planet. Right now, I am relieved to see the demand for petrol, diesel and aviation fuel is plummeting. This might temporarily hurt the economy, but we know it is also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and helping to repair the environment. Isn’t it time we all looked to alternative ways of living and develop technologies, policies and systems that will lead to a higher level of sustainability and efficiency for the future health of our planet? I hope people will now realise that it’s okay to eat leftovers, grow our own vegetables, buy fewer clothes and save money for a rainy day. It is not about living with less, it is about living with enough!
Happiness and purpose
We know from the many studies carried out over the years that people in wealthy nations such as the US, UK and Australia suffer more from anxiety and depression that is directly linked to our longing for purpose. This is evident in indicators such as the epidemic of substance abuse and addiction that we see across the world. People want to be part of something meaningful and to make a difference in their own special way. There has never been a better time to participate. It all starts with each of us. By reducing our consumption and encouraging others to do so, we might just find a whole new world of opportunity to create a sustainable way of living.
I have a book by my bed that I have kept with me for over twenty years which means it has travelled to many countries by now! The name of the book is Now Is The Time, written by an Irish nun called Sister Stanislaus Kennedy. It is a volume of spiritual reflections that has provided comfort to me since I first opened it in 1998. Sister Stan, as she is affectionately known, is a deeply committed social activist and tireless worker on behalf of homeless people.
Here’s a quote from a chapter in that book entitled A Time to Reverence The Earth:
Our challenge is to view the earth not as humanity’s warehouse or playground but as God’s creation. Our challenge is to question the individualism, utilitarianism and greed that plague the modern attitude towards nature, especially in the western world. Our challenge is to shape and influence the future.
Whether or not you believe in God is not important here but whether you believe that Mother Nature is to be revered and loved for all she gives us. The bee that stung me yesterday was bringing me a message! It’s time to re-discover her majesty, Mother Nature. Thanks for being with me this week.