“Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity. The Bible speaks again and again of the beauty of creation, which is called to glorify God.” Saint Pope John Paul II
My daughter, Anna, posted a link on her Facebook page not long ago about the value of experience over consumption. The article described research showing how briefly our interest in material purchases lasts. Once the thrill over acquiring a new gadget, piece of clothing, or the latest upgrade for the home is gone, we quickly jettison the memory of our excitement over it as well. The experiences we have, however, remain and we draw associations with them.
I posted a comment on Anna’s page reminding her of the time she encouraged our family to go swimming with the manatees while on vacation in Florida. She posted the following response: “No one ever says, ‘Ah yes, remember the day we just decided to stay home?’”
Some of the best experiences I shared with my children were ones that took place outdoors. Whether it was as awesome as a swim with the manatees or as commonplace as a picnic, we all seemed to breathe easier in the expanse of nature.
Since its first celebration in 1970, the observation of Earth Day has been an opportunity to increase awareness around the importance of environmental conservation and to take active steps to participate in it. This fits well with one of the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching – care of God’s creation.
Earth Day’s intent to raise awareness around nature takes on renewed significance in light of ramped-up consumerism.
All the material goods we purchase and eventually discard end up somewhere. This makes the challenge of the 3 R’s of environmentalism all the more critical: reduce, reuse, recycle.
With so many people walking around with eyes glued to cell phones, there is also a spiritual component to the day. Anxiety and stress levels seem to be exacerbated by the fear that we’ll miss out on something if we aren’t plugged in 24/7. Earth Day is one more opportunity to open ourselves to nature’s restorative powers and to glorify God, as John Paull II advised.
May your observation of Earth Day draw you away from home and out into God’s creation for yet another experience to tuck into heart and soul.
Sadlier’s Gather in My Name Summer Scripture Event is a chance to draw together people of all ages to celebrate the joys of God’s creation. Download the entire event or use the prayers and activities to enhance your celebration of Earth Day.
Download my prayer, In Thanksgiving for the Gifts of God’s Creation, and use it in your home or parish to enhance your appreciation of nature’s bounty.