Dear Mother Earth, I love you!
April 26, 2023 | Topics: Spotlight, Stories
Photography by Eddee Daniel
I have a special treat for you today. Two treats in fact. In honor of Earth Day, which was April 22, I bring you as a very special treat excerpts from a series of ten love letters to the Earth written by Thích Nhất Hạnh, the famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist and author.
Less special perhaps, but no less a treat, I bring you my own version of a love letter to the Earth in the form of a photo essay. With an emphasis on spring, since we are in the midst of that yearly renaissance. While some of the images are from our current iteration of spring here in SE Wisconsin, since (as usual) the season is dragging its feet, others are from last year. In fact, this time of the season is so often disappointing that Lynn and I have made it a tradition to go south for a bit in April to experience the real thing. Last week we spent a few days at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. The three photos that follow are from there. As you can see, their season is at least two-three weeks ahead of ours.
If you recall Earth Day itself, last Saturday, the weather was particularly unseasonable, with occasional snow squalls punctuating an otherwise gloomy day. Nevertheless, the annual Milwaukee Riverkeeper spring cleanup went on despite it all, with hundreds of people out braving the wintry chill to bring their own love to our corner of the Earth. My first two images are from that event.
The rest of the photo essay is from various places, many of which you can explore further by clicking on the links in the captions.
Here is Thích Nhất Hạnh:
“Dear Mother Earth,
“I bow my head before you as I look deeply and recognize that you are present in me and that I’m a part of you. I was born from you and you are always present, offering me everything I need for my nourishment and growth. My mother, my father, and all my ancestors are also your children. We breathe your fresh air. We drink your clear water. We eat your nourishing food. Your herbs heal us when we’re sick.
“You are the mother of all beings. I call you by the human name Mother and yet I know your mothering nature is more vast and ancient than humankind. We are just one young species of your many children. All the millions of other species who live—or have lived—on Earth are also your children. You aren’t a person, but I know you are not less than a person either. You are a living breathing being in the form of a planet.
“Dear Mother, wherever there is soil, water, rock or air, you are there, nourishing me and giving me life. You are present in every cell of my body. My physical body is your physical body, and just as the sun and stars are present in you, they are also present in me. You are not outside of me and I am not outside of you. You are more than just my environment. You are nothing less than myself.
“I promise to keep the awareness alive that you are always in me, and I am always in you. I promise to be aware that your health and well-being is my own health and well-being. I know I need to keep this awareness alive in me for us both to be peaceful, happy, healthy, and strong….
“Each morning when I wake up you offer me twenty-four brand new hours to cherish and enjoy your beauty. You gave birth to every miraculous form of life. Your children include the clear lake, the green pine, the pink cloud, the snowcapped mountain top, the fragrant forest, the white crane, the golden deer, the extraordinary caterpillar, and every brilliant mathematician, skilled artisan, and gifted architect. You are the greatest mathematician, the most accomplished artisan, and the most talented architect of all. The simple branch of cherry blossoms, the shell of a snail, and the wing of a bat all bear witness to this amazing truth. My deep wish is to live in such a way that I am awake to each of your wonders and nourished by your beauty. I cherish your precious creativity and I smile to this gift of life….
“Every time I step upon the Earth, I will train myself to see that I am walking on you, my Mother. Every time I place my feet on the Earth I have a chance to be in touch with you and with all your wonders. With every step I can touch the fact that you aren’t just beneath me, dear Mother, but you are also within me. Each mindful and gentle step can nourish me, heal me, and bring me into contact with myself and with you in the present moment.
“I want to walk gently, with steps of love and with great respect. I shall walk with my own body and mind united in oneness. I know I can walk in such a way that every step is a pleasure, every step is nourishing, and every step is healing—not only for my body and mind, but also for you, dear Mother Earth. You are the most beautiful planet in our entire solar system. I do not want to run away from you, dear Mother, nor to hurry. I know I can find happiness right here with you. I do not need to rush to find more conditions for happiness in the future. At every step I can take refuge in you….”
As I mentioned at the top, the words by Thích Nhất Hạnh are excerpts. I encourage you to check out the complete text of his Ten Love Letters to the Earth.
The featured photo at the top is from Pritchard Park in Racine.
Eddee Daniel is a board member of Preserve Our Parks and a former board member of Milwaukee Riverkeeper.
5 thoughts on "Dear Mother Earth, I love you!"
beautiful! Oh to always be able to be that present! Thanks!
I saw a beautiful Sandhills crane near Paneras driving away 2 geese from her area last weekend.
Fantastic…. This was wonderful…… You are so so talented. Happy to say You are my friend.
Beautiful as usual, Eddee. Thanks for the great pictures and thoughtful reflections.
As always, your pictures are wonderful. And the addition of some of Tich Nhat Hanh’s words in his love letters to the earth makes this collection of photos particularly inspiring.
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