I haven’t prayed for a while because I was wondering who I was praying to. I wrote a liturgy for Gaia, the incarnated universe, the divine feminine, Mother Earth.
Our Mother, who sustains our daily life, we contemplate in awe and wonder the world that we observe around us and our ability to reflect self-consciously about our place in the world and our agency as members of the human species.
Teach us to live in harmony with the rhythms of the day, the seasons, and the life cycles of the myriad species with whom we share the Earth. As we witness birth, life, and death and consider our origins as the offspring of stars, we wonder how life came to be in this specific form — so complex that we cannot begin to fathom its beauty before our minds and bodies decay and we return to the dust from which we came.
We are grateful for bodies that move and breathe and think and feel and hear and taste and see and smell and balance. We have imaginations that enable us to create fantastic stories about how all of this came to be and why we are here.
I’m not sure why we have come to believe that we have this life all figured out. I’m sorry that we have taken this life for granted and are, for whatever reason, intent on destroying life and consuming everything that we see for our own selfish pleasure. Somehow, we have conceived, prototyped, and manufactured objects, processes, and systems that have turned us into cogs in a machine of our own making.
We are only beginning to grasp the unintended consequences of what we have built. We didn’t think through the long-term implications of what we were doing. Now, we have an opportunity to repair the things we have broken, to heal relationships, to revive the land, the rivers, and the oceans, and to restore life on the Earth.
We really have no idea what happens to us after we die. We imagine all sorts of wild scenarios to justify the way we live in the present. But the more we rationally consider these stories, the more they seem like fictions we have created to relieve our anxieties and fears about the fragility of life, the uncertainties of existence, and the finality of death, to the extent that we understand reality and this universe we inhabit.
I was taught to pray to a Heavenly Father. Honestly, I don’t know what heaven is. From what I can tell, it is something we made up to help us worry a little less about how insignificant and helpless we feel when we are confused, in pain, suffering illnesses, or afraid of death. That God always seemed distant, cold, aloof, silent, inaccessible, and indifferent to my questions, doubts, insecurities, and fears.
You, our Mother, on the other hand, are intimately involved in every facet of our being. You are the pulsing heart beat that connects us all. You are the air we breathe. You are the warm sunshine on our faces. You are embodied in the embrace of our loved ones. You satisfy our need for nourishment, turning biochemical processes into life-sustaining energy and raw materials for growing bones, building muscle, repairing damaged tissue, firing neurons, filtering toxins, and eliminating wastes. It is a miracle that any of this is happening, all of this extravagant waste of billions of years of preparation for this momentary experience of life.
When I consider the inhumanity of humans to other humans, to other creatures, and to the natural world, I wonder how a good God could have created the potential for such evil.
When I consider the human capacity for empathy, kindness, compassion, and love, I realize again how much I have to be grateful for.
Life is full of contradictions. When I read the ancient literature that has become our sacred text, I can better understand how we have always been “struggling with God.” We are Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with God. We contemplate our beginnings, our genesis. We speculate about a deity who created us and orders human destinies. We wonder about the generations who came before us and how we should honour and remember them. We think about freedom and oppression, life and death, light and darkness, good and evil. We wonder about personal responsibility and social order. We wage wars and seek peace. We make rules and find ways to solve conflict. We consider the thoughts, habits, traditions, and work that amount to a good life.
We honour the past by paying attention to the wisdom of those who have come before us, but we also learn from our own experiences what works and what doesn’t.
In front of us is a future full of possibilities and opportunities. What will we make of this one wild life? We will choose our path, but we do not know what we will encounter on the journey. Only time will tell.
Thank you, Mother Earth, for giving birth to this wild life. May we live to honour that gift, to leave this world better than we found it, and to return to the earth from which we came so others may grow in the rich soil that we leave for future generations.