I lost my mother when I was 8 years old. As a result, I grew up with a variety of mothers, ranging from my father to my sisters to my aunts to my friends’ mothers. I was mothered by many and learned a lot from everyone, especially my sister Linda who taught me everything from how to make oatmeal cookies to how to survive my daughter’s teen years.
When I got a little older and could verbalize what it felt like to lose my mother at such a young age, I can to realize that for me, losing your mother is losing the foundation of your life. You don’t quite feel like you have a secure anchor because you don’t have quite the same unconditional love, even if you have plenty of love around you, which I always have – but a mother’s love for her child is different.
Recently this makes me think about the mother to us all, mother earth. The mother that supports us, and who we should be supporting. Instead, we are destroying her. How much ground can we recover from the excesses of the last hundred years or more? The digging, drilling, polluting, poaching, mowing down rainforests and entire eco-systems for malls and housing developments. Can we fix that damage somehow, in our lifetime anyway? Will my grandchildren be wearing gas masks and covered from head to toe because of the pollution and UV rays?
We all have one mother and we share her. She keeps us warm, fed, and supplies the very air that we breathe. As with human mothers and children, we aren’t always nice to each other. But what we have done to our shared mother, mother earth, is truly heinous.
Its far to late to fix what we’ve done. At this time I do my best to mitigate my carbon footprint, separate my recyclables (and hope that they actually get recycled), try to carry my water bottle, re-use or re-invent what I can. But I can’t clean up the Great Lakes, I can’t clean up nuclear waste-sites. I am only one vote when it comes to off-shore drilling or running a pipeline through the wilds of Alaska.
So on Sunday, as you think about your mom if she’s not with you, or as your kids make you brunch or you have a big family celebration, take a moment to think about our shared mother, not the one we live with but the one that we live on. Try to do something, one thing a day, that will help keep our shared mother healthier. Pick up trash, plant a tree, reusable water glasses instead of bottles – anything you can think of.
Sometimes, emotionally, we are lucky enough to be mothered by more than one person. But when it comes to mother earth, its time for us to start thinking more about what we can do for her, instead of what we can continue to take from her. We need to treat her with compassion and respect. Its time for the human race to stop acting like adolescents and take, take, take from the earth. Instead, lets start to give, give, give and see if we can do something in our lifetime to relieve some of the stress that we have put on her.
The practice of Ahimsa, one of the many facets of yoga, means simply “not doing harm”. It does not distinguish between doing harm to others versus doing harm to onesself, or between harm as done to humans or animals or objects or the earth itself.