The coronavirus pandemic has curtailed most plans for in-person Earth Day celebrations this week. But there are many ways to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day at home and in your neighborhood.
1. Observe and wonder. Begin a weekly ritual of settling into a circle of nature for a few minutes of observation, contemplation, and appreciation. Maybe your yard, or a green space during your lunch break at work, or just a crack in the sidewalk where weeds and grass have pushed through. Cultivate the habit of noticing. What lives here? What passes through? Learn the names of the trees and plants – they are your neighbors in God’s Creation! Let this time center you in prayer, wonder, and gratitude.
2. Plant and grow. Make a plan for your garden. Even if it’s just some pots on your porch or windowsill, think about what vegetables and flowers you would like to grow this season and determine when you’ll plant them. If you pick up seeds and plants at your local nursery or garden center (many remain open because they are agricultural businesses), be sure to wear a mask and maintain proper social distancing.
3. Share your green space on social media. Find interesting angles to take pictures of the plants and trees in your living space. When you post your pics, share that caring for God’s Creation is part of your faith and encourage others to post their photos in the thread. And be sure to share over on our Bethel Church page too! https://www.facebook.com/bethelmethodistcolumbia/?ref=bookmarks
4. Play Earth Day bingo! This is a great activity to do with children. Make up a card with things in nature they might find in a walk around your neighborhood or in the backyard. Include dogs, birds, trees, grass, flowers, and insects. As they find each one, stop and say a prayer of thanks that God has created this beautiful discovery.
5. Advocate online. Find out what environmental legislation is currently under consideration in Congress. Call your representative and senators and encourage them to support the strongest protections for our planet. Tell them you are a Christian who votes on climate issues and ask them to support climate legislation. Call your local mayor’s office and ask if there is a task force for addressing climate preparedness. If there is, thank them and ask how you can help. If not, ask why. Share with them what you’ve learned about how climate change will likely affect your community.
6. Read and educate. Download a copy of Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si’ and learn more about his call to care for the environment.
7. Call Pastor Julie and tell her about your favorite place in nature – she would love to hear why this place has a spiritual connection for you! Her telephone number is (803) 319-6169.
8. Pray for Earth and vulnerable communities. Write a prayer of lament, confession, thanks, or intercession regarding Creation. Share it on social media along with a favorite nature picture.
9. Honor Native legacy. Visit Native Land Digital, type in your address, and see what indigenous peoples lived in the land before European conquest https://native-land.ca
Do some research about the history of Indigenous peoples in the place where you live. What disturbs you? What humbles you? What surprises you? How might you reconsider your relationship with the natural world in light of Native American practices of honoring our relationships with all our relatives – human and other-than-human?
10. Thank those who nurtured your love of nature. Think about the person who has taught you the most about environmental concerns and cultivated your love of nature. Write them a letter thanking them for what they have taught you. If the person is no longer living, read the letter to someone close to you in order to honor that person’s memory.