Earth Day – A planet breathes but at what cost?
This month was Earth Day. Seemingly there is much to celebrate, with skies clearing, birds singing, animals reclaiming spaces and the planet drawing deep and plentiful breaths from an earth that seems to be reviving.
Yet the price for this re-birth is catastrophic for so many. The global pandemic is causing so much heartache, taking away family members too early. It’s indiscriminate, claiming the lives of those who are giving the most and have often been valued the least.
The pandemic is taking the best of us
It has nothing to do with strength and resilience, as Emily Maitliss said in an unprecedented soliloquy on Newsnight, it is the great leveller and it is taking the best of us. Those on the frontline, those who have given so much and those who still have so much more to give.
But we are slowing down, valuing each other and the planet is thanking us for it
But, in all this sadness we have slowed down. People are valuing the time they now have, their families, loved ones and the simple purity of human touch. An embrace, a reassuring squeeze that stops us from feeling alone.
The planet is taking deeper breaths, dolphins have been spotted in the now clear waters in Venice, almost 8 out of every 10 flight is cancelled, crude oil has no value, the Taj Mahal can be seen in all its splendour, safari animals have reclaimed their land and all of us wake up to birdsong instead of traffic.
Faith has nothing to do with church buildings
Churches are living out what they have always known – that faith has nothing to do with buildings. Thousands upon thousands are accessing live-streaming services, there has been a big surge on Google of people asking, ‘How do I pray?’ and many are asking the biggest questions of all, searching for the answers in faith.
Churches are also getting creative. Asking themselves, how do we reach people now that people cannot come to us? From online streaming to dial in church services, enchanting services from bishops about turning bananas into penguins to making their quiet places accessible through the magic of virtual reality.
Quiet virtual gardens
Paul Church near Penzance is part of the Quiet Garden Movement and has opened up its gardens to everyone, creating a beautiful sequence of photographs to lose yourself in – even if we cannot physically be there.
Making Earth Day a turning point
So on this day, Earth Day, as the prayer we shared from the Corrymeela Community asks, let’s make this a turning point. A time when we pray collectively that lessons are being learnt about our planet, ourselves and our values and that we do everything we can to hold onto to that and not return to the frenetic pace of life, consumerism, waste and disregard for our planet.