What We Appreciate, We Magnify!

That which we humans appreciate, we magnify! When we love someone, not only do we praise the magnificence of the one loved, but the lover herself/himself seems to grow in beauty, in carefulness, in many admirable qualities. When we love and praise the beauty of our Mother Earth, she responds to our love and care. She, then, is productive; and we can gather her fruits and are nourished. But, it’s a circular thing: we, again, are required to return our gratitude in the form of care.

As we play in her waters and climb her mountains, harvest her forests and fields, dig in her quarries, we must renew what we might have spoiled so that her health is restored. It is sad that very few among us would deny how we humans have failed to care for our Mother Earth! Do we teach our children which things are more important than others? A proper education enables young people to put their own lives in order, but do we teach them that proper relationships to the Earth teaches all of us that we have treated our Earth without care or reverence, without knowledge of her needs or cognizance of the complexity of our present troubles!

Wendell Berry, farmer, philosopher, poet, essayist, novelist and social activist, puts it this way: “When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time, I rest in the grace of the world and am free” (“The Peace of Wild Things” in Green River Review, #1).

What would it take for all of us to look again upon our Earth as mother, sister, brother, and know that we are all children of this universe? And that we want to change our lives from ones of exploitation to lives of explicit gratitude, so that we might again rest in this world and be free? What we humans appreciate, we magnify!

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility,” writes Wendell Berry. “To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”

Renée Domeier, OSB

Photo: Raindrops on a leaf. Photo taken by Sister Nancy Bauer.