Teaching Earth’s Healing Power:
Sister Sharon Zayac, OP

This article by Sister Sharon Zayac, OP, was first published in JUST Words, in 2008.

As preachers, the first thing we acknowledge is that we do not heal Earth. We do not have the power, the breadth of knowledge, nor often the will. Earth is actually self-healing, just as she is self-educating, self-nourishing, and self-governing. And, in fact, Earth heals us.

Who of us has not experienced the healing power of lake, ocean, prairie, mountain, sunset, garden, redwood, puppy, birdsong? Who if us has not been healed by sunlight, herb, medicinal plant, mineral, vitamin, soothing oil, chicken soup? Whose spirit has not longed for the smell and green of spring after a long winter of brown, barren vistas and icy winds? Earth is our healer.

Having said that does not let us off the hook, however. Because of our ever-increasing numbers and our technologies, humans have overwhelmed Earth’s natural capacities to maintain the delicate equilibrium necessary for the health of the whole. For eons, Earth effectively turned all of life’s waste into nourishment for future generations. But no longer.

The work of the preacher, then, is not so much about healing Earth as it is about proclaiming the non-negotiable truth that unless Earth is healthy, we humans cannot be.

Whose spirit has not longed for the smell and green of spring after a long winter of brown, barren vistas and icy winds? Earth is our healer.

Thomas Aquinas told us centuries ago that God’s word is written in to volumes, that of creation and that of holy scripture.

The waste we now generate is too overwhelming or too foreign for Earth’s natural processes to break it down. We know that. Yet, we continue to manufacture and dump billions of tons of plastic, toxic chemicals, and greenhouse gases into ever new landfills and into the air, into the rivers and oceans, and onto our planet’s diminishing topsoil.  Earth can no longer sustain a healthy balance against such an onslaught.

The work of the preacher, then, is not so much about healing Earth as it is about proclaiming the non-negotiable truth that unless Earth is healthy, we humans cannot be. We are all part of the one community of life on the planet, and the health of any of us is dependent upon the health of the whole. And since our actions are upsetting that balance, it is we who must do something about it.

Thomas Aquinas told us centuries ago that God’s word is written in to volumes, that of creation and that of holy scripture. God speaks the word, and creation is. (Eckhart) As preachers, each of us must preach that word, whether we live and minister in an eco-center like Jubilee Farm, teach in a classroom, work in a healthcare setting, or minister in a hundred different setting. The whole community of life on Earth is sacred. Our lives must witness that truth.

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