Earth Day 2015 – a week to offer our practice and prayers – part 1

Many members of our community of practice (Sangha), both monastic and lay, from north to south, west to east are coming together to be, to share and finding ways to act. We want to cultivate our love and insight into interbeing, so our actions of thinking, speaking and acting will truly be worthy contributions of our care for Mother Earth and all her children. In our life and practice this week and beyond we look to our Teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thay for guidance. This is his deep conversations with Mother Earth, which inspire our blog posts this coming week:

Dear Mother Earth, there were times when our children suffered greatly from natural disaster.

We know that when we suffer, you suffer also Mother. All these times we use to turn to you Mother, and ask whether we can count on you, because you have so much stability and compassion, You didn’t answer us right away, and then, looking at us with great compassion, you said: ” Yes, of course you can count on your Mother. I will always be there for you . But, my dear children, you have to ask yourselves whether your Mother can count on you.” 

Dear Mother, we have stayed many nights without sleeping because of this koan given to us. And today, with tears all over our face as we come to kneel before you, Compassionate and Holy Mother, to tell you that, Yes Mother, you can count on us.

Sister Mai Nghiem, currently residing at Deer Park Monastery offers this love letter and promises to Mother Earth:

Beloved Mother,

It took me a while to write these two simple words down. I didn’t want to write them as we write “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam”. I wanted to really write them, not only with my pen but with my entire being, to feel, what they meant. It took me on a journey, a journey back to you, a journey back to me.

First i thought i would write “Maman chérie” (Cherished Mother), as French is my first language and that is how I call the woman who gave me life. But then, same question: what does this so banal yet sacred word means to me, profoundly, in my bones and flesh? As I breathed with the wind, I remembered my mother, sitting under a tree, letting the warm sun, the dry and hot earth and the smell of the pine embrace her balloon-belly. Little-me-in-the-belly felt so alive!

Me in my mother, my mother in your embrace. Me, a cell of my mother, my mother, a cell of many

mothers. All the way back to you. Me, an extension of you. Me…You. Then it didn’t really matter anymore whether i would write “Maman Chérie”, “Dear me” or “Dear Mother Earth”.

Oh dear! what a long introduction for just two words! Should i start over again?

Beloved Mother,

I want to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. All around you, people are celebrating you today. I wish you wouldn’t need a special day to be celebrated. Does it mean we forget to celebrate you all the other days of the year? I wish every day could be a celebration.

Dear Mother, as your human beings children grow more numerous on your lap, we forget our own name: Human Being. We live as if we were Human Doing. How strange. We ask our children “What do you want to do with your life?” instead of “How would you like to live?” Is life itself not enough, that we have to do something with it? How strange!

Forgetting our name, we forget our own Mother, you who give us land and shelter to live, food to eat, water to drink, air to breathe, fire to keep us warm and love to grow. We think it is all ours to buy and sell, to play and throw. Forgetting who we are, we create so much stress in our body and mind. And being your extension, we create so much stress on you, exhausting you, pushing you to your limit.

Many times you’ve tried to call us, to tell us, in your own ways, that we have to stop the race if we want for our children to have a chance to know their Mother. But we have become so noisy that we rarely can hear you. We rarely even hear ourselves. Relearning silence in order to start hearing again.

We forget who we are. We forget who you are. We forget we are you. We forget you are us. So today, lying on your warm and thick skin, I want to whisper a prayer to your ear. Three Promises.

Firstly, I promise you to breathe so as to be fully alive, like a blade of grass dancing in the breeze and to walk so as to be fully in love, like a bird praising the beauty of your sunrise.

Secondly, I promise to learn how to suffer; how to suffer your pain and my pain, with much tenderness and care, tending to our wounds and as one of your son puts in so beautifully “not to turn my head, but to keep looking at the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters me. And not to believe for a moment that I am healing myself”.

Thirdly, last but not least, I promise you to learn to touch you deeply, through all your wondrous manifestations and children. So that the feelings of loneliness, of separation and alienation from you that usually give rise to greed, fear or need to control can transform into profound reverence, awe and respect. I promise to train to see myself as who I truly am, a cell of your Great Body, being whole and home, being me and you.

Three promises…the prayer of a single heart beat.

Beloved Mother, I am afraid I will forget my promises made to you today, but I trust you will find ways to remind me. Please do it often!

Happy today’s day, dear Mother. I love you. One of your numerous children.