More Spiritual Reflections

Spiritual Reflections


Earth Day Prayer

Sr. Theresa Jordan, IHM
IHM Center, Scranton, PA
April 22, 2009

Earth Day, April 22, 2009

April 22, 1970 marked the first Earth Day, a national day of observance of environmental problems. Earth Day is a grassroots movement started by then Senator Gaylord Nelson. This event helped lay the foundation for legislation such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

If you were to Google Earth Day, the top results would refer to the environment, its protection, and to the many organizations whose focus centers on or around the environment.

I found the preparation for this reflection a challenge. Should I focus on Earth Day, the day of observance, should I read of litany of statistical data about waste, the environment, etc? Do I focus on Creation Spirituality, the impact of climate change? I am neither a theologian nor an ecologist. I cannot adequately explain creation spirituality or the precise causes of climate changes and the subsequent impact on earth. Nor do I care to rattle off a list about how many tons of this and that is disposed of in the United States

I do believe that as Christians we must develop a deeper understanding of both. I realize that at times, the term creation spirituality may be misunderstood, I would like to be clear from the onset, when I speak of Creation Spirituality, I am referring to a spirituality, in no way I am referring to or implying the worship of anything or anyone but God, our Creator.

And so I decided to start at the beginning when God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that dry land may appear". And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin and dry land appeared. God called the dry land "the earth," and the basin of water he called "the sea". And God saw how good it was.

Creation points to a Creator, a God who created and is still creating all things. It implies relationship. Creation is a mirror image of God. We would do the environment and nature justice by always thinking in terms of creation and to live out of the notion that we are in relationship with all things created by God.

Franciscan spirituality teaches us that reading, understanding and contemplating the word of God leads us back to creation as the revelation of God.

If we believe in the incarnation, in the Creator as the creator, than we have no choice but to take the issues of creation seriously. We are called to this partnership, to this collaboration through various means:

  • Thru Scripture, especially the Psalms
  • Thru Catholic Social Teachings where one of the major theme is


Care for God's Creation which states that
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan; it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God's creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.

  • The IHM Constitutions where as part of mission it is stated:

... We are also called to incorporate a sensitivity and commitment to social justice in our ministry and to use every opportunity available to affect social structures.

The movie The Lion King is about the Circle of Life, it is about care and respect for creation. In the movie, Simba a young lion cub is taught by his father to respect all things; to not respect all things would disrupt the Circle of Life. After the death of Simba's father, Simba runs away from the Pride believing he was responsible for his father's death. Scar, Simba's uncle, and the hyenas take over the pride and break the Circle of Life. They do not respect the other aspects of creation. Before long, there is famine, loss of vegetation, and animals that normally do not turn against each other turn against each other. Simba eventfully returns to the pride replacing Scar and before long, vegetation is back, famine is gone, Elton John wins an Oscar and the circle of life is made whole.

Kevin Bacon writes the forward to the book, YOU ARE HERE We are all familiar with the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, where every actor is related to Kevin Bacon by six degrees or less. Kevin believes it is actually a beautiful notion, especially when he is not in the picture, that we all are connected. That what we do , our actions, affect our friends and neighbors down the block and on the other side of the world; that we must be responsible for each other and this planet we are riding on. The book talks about the environmental impact on 8 different places in the world.

One of these places is India. 80% of the US electronic waste is exported to Third World Countries, especially India. This means 8 out of 10 batteries that you use, are exported to underdeveloped villages in India. Most if not all of electronic waste is hazardous waste, only as of now it is not required to be labeled hazardous waste. Children in India are living on and eating (chewing on) this electronic waste. If we as Americans do not believe it is okay for us to live on hazardous waste sites or to allow our children to chew on hazardous waste why do we think it is okay for other people? The US produces 3 million tons of e-waste per year. What would we do if we had to live with it? Would we expect Jesus to live on our waste?

People who believe in God, in the Creator and creation can no longer ignore the issues or not participate in the care in of Creation. So what can we do?

Not everyone is called to be an extremist, so for some of us we need to start with small steps (every step counts.)

  • Wean yourself off of bottle water. I have not completely eliminated the use of bottle water in my life, but I have greatly reduced my consumption of it.
  • Take the time to find the correct container for disposable of waste and recyclables. Even if you do not believe in the benefits of recycling, do it out of respect for the person who may have to sort the waste out of the cans.
  • Start a battery box where you live, and take advantage of the e-cycling programs.
  • Before buying the latest greatest electronic equipments, ask yourself, what does this new equipment give me that is critical to my ministry, my life? Ask how can I responsibly recycle the equipment to be replaced?
  • Be like St Francis, who would when walking, especially after a rainfall, pick up worms and move them to a safe spot so they would not be trampled, because the worm is a part of God's creation.
  • Call for legislation that would tighten up the exporting of hazardous waste.


And regardless of age and mobility, everyone can do the one thing that would have the greatest impact. Pray, Pray that wisdom and knowledge may be granted to those persons who can affect structural changes in corporations and in legislation that would aid in the protection of creation, which God saw as good.

And if you are still wondering why you should do anything, I go back to St. Matthew's gospel, when Jesus said, the lest you do for my brothers and sisters, you do for me.