Renewing Our Connection to Spirit and Planet
Spring is the season of hope and renewal, as joyously expressed throughout the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. Is it any wonder why all of humanity’s faiths celebrate the return of spring with such religious richness? Easter, Pesach, Holi, Ramadan, Nowruz, Ostara, Purim, Ridvan, Vaisakhi, and Wesak are notable examples of how we mark the arrival of spring this year. Along with the return of more light and longer days, we annually observe these spring festivals through joy, prayer, remembrance and ritual—but most of all through our sacred connection to the act of creation and the renewal of life.
Spring marks humanity’s primal connection to spirit and to planet, which explains the recent rise in popularity of why we celebrate Earth Day every Apr. 22. (Join us for Earth Day Meditation & Ritual with Dr. Jay Kumar Apr. 22) Like the many religious holidays of spring, on Earth Day we revere our stewardship and sanctity to nature and creation.
Eco-Spirituality: Care for Our Common Home
Over the past few decades, I often hear more of my students declaring “nature is my religion”—and they are right to say so! In many ways Earth Day can be observed as a new religious holiday. There even exists names for this emerging spiritual movement—eco-theology or eco-sensitive spirituality—an idea solidly embraced by Pope Francis when bringing awareness on the care for our common home.
In the words of Pope Francis: “If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously….I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. ”
Of course, the recent popularity of honoring Earth Day isn’t a novel “nature religion”, for it has roots in human antiquity. As our ancient ancestors were more dependent on nature as their primary source for survival and sustenance, the earth became worshipped as a divine being—Mother Earth. We witness this reverence to the environment and planet in the ancient Indian hymn to Mother Earth, dating back over 3,000 years from the Vedas by the following verse: “I evoke the Earth which gives shelter to all the searchers of truth, to those who are tolerant and have understanding, to all things strength-giving, nutritious; the source of creative spirit, we depend on you, O Earth!”
These powerful teachings—both ancient and modern—echo this growing eco-sensitive spiritual movement in today’s world. Earth Day is more than a celebration of the planet; it is equally an opportunity for environmental activism and ecological justice for the marginalized and oppressed. Earth Day reminds us of our common humanity and timeless unity with all of creation.
Connecting through the Power of Ritual
As many of us around the world are still experiencing some form of limitations on in-person gatherings, one strategy for experiencing meaningful connections is through rituals? Why are rituals so important and essential for us? As revealed in the Psychology Today article: “One of the most important features of rituals is that they do not only mark time; they create time. By defining beginnings and ends to developmental or social phases, rituals structure our social worlds and how we understand time, relationships, and change.”
As we celebrate Earth Day, along with the significant religious festivals happening this spring, I invite you to consider what rituals can you do to nurture your connection to spirit and planet—not just on Earth Day, but every day? How do you renew and replenish your connection to the divine and sacred? Perhaps some of these might inspire you:
- a silent walk through nature,
- a safe gathering with family and friends at the park,
- volunteering to pick up trash at the beach,
- going vegetarian or vegan for the week,
- opting to walk or ride your bike, instead of your car,
- or even creating your own ritual that is meaningful to you.
Here are some more resources and rituals to consider.
However you choose to commemorate Earth Day, may you celebrate your sacred connection to spirit and to planet with renewed inspiration and joy in celebration to all of creation!
From all of us at the Fish Interfaith Center, we wish you a Happy Earth Day!
Dr. Jay Kumar
Director of Wellbeing, Fish Interfaith Center