Living Peacefully on Earth

by Elena Garcia

April 21, 2018. 

In meditating on the Earth during this month my mind became aware of the awesome power and love of the Holy One. For some years, science and technology have made it possible for us to explore the cosmos and to view much of it on our screens. Although awed at first, I fear that we have become numb to its magnificence and now often take for granted that it is all there. My musings have challenged me to wonderments and a myriad of questions such as how is it that the earth is round, how does it remain round and how does it hang out here in space? Oh, and these are only a few of the hows and whys. We learned as children that “God is the Supreme Being who made all things” The in-depth realization that our Creator’s presence permeates every living thing has enriched my spiritual journey.

Today we celebrate Earth Day, a day when we are reminded of the power and majesty of  The Holy one who has ordained and permitted us to live and to live here. Yes, if we remove the use of the mere word Earth and replace it with Here, we may be able to make a closer connection to the reality of our existence and the love which surrounds and permeates our beings. All of Creation and its creatures are one.

Over the decades, we have witnessed the destruction we humans have done to Mother Earth and her creatures. We’ve read about catastrophic climate change and experienced the changes—the droughts, the strange weather, the extreme fires and tornadoes and rainfall. We grieve for Mother Earth and the creatures who die because of our systemic greed, violence, and destructive habits. Our beautiful Earth, our home has cried out in vain for care and attention to its potential for infinite possibilities. And which one of us would not be aware of and attend to the ongoing maintenance needs, upkeep and beautification of our homes? We have only to watch HGTV to understand. Yet only recently have I made or felt the connection between my vision of nonviolence and the ongoing destruction of Mother Earth.

“Blessed are the meek,” Jesus says in the Beatitudes. Thomas Merton wrote that “meekness” is the biblical word for nonviolence. “Blessed are the nonviolent,” Jesus is saying– “They will inherit the earth.” A life of nonviolence leads to oneness with creation and her creatures.

A life of violence, of course, leads to an abrupt discord with creation. In a time of permanent warfare, nuclear weapons, and catastrophic climate change, the message couldn’t be clearer. The God of peace, the nonviolent Jesus, and his Holy Spirit call us to practice nonviolence. Only in that way, can we renounce and stop our environmental destruction, tend our Garden of Eden together, and restore creation to its rightful peace. In the process, we will discover peace with one another and all the creatures.

This is the journey we are all called to live, to make the connection between active nonviolence and oneness with creation, so that we all might dwell peacefully in this paradise. I [see] not just the vision of peace and nonviolence, but the vision of a new creation, where we all live as one in peace with one another, Mother Earth and her glorious creatures. It’s that vision of peace, nonviolence, and the new creation, the vision of the promised land before us, the practice of proactive nonviolence, that offers a way out of environmental destruction, as well as permanent war, corporate greed, systemic racism, and extreme poverty.

And how do we live nonviolently? It requires of both humans and nature a recognition of God’s image in each living thing. We cannot be violent toward someone or something when we see the divine in them!

All we have to do is open our eyes to the reality of creation before us, to be present to it, to take it in and honor it, and welcome its gift of peace—and do so within the boundaries of nonviolence. In that present moment of peace, a new creation is offered to us once again. Amen

In preparation for this brief homily starter I referenced the work of John Dear, a nonviolent activist. His recent book is entitled They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change


Questions for Reflection

  • What does Earth Day mean to you?
  • What thoughts do you have on nonviolence?
  • Nonviolence-toward people? Toward all of creation?