wind water fire earth
Wind, your baleful breath has stoked wildfires and razed dwellings. In times to come, waft your lovely voice over the backs of mother sea turtles. Bless the laying of their eggs. Stir sands of memory to send hatchlings scampering to the sea. Bring rain—brimming, brimming.
Water, your tsunamis have swallowed villages; your heated, acidic oceans choked with plastic have drowned polar bears and whitened coral reefs. Even so, your rolling waves are mother to us all. May your staggering seas wash away human callousness. We have unbalanced nature and murdered countless species. Despair stalks our shores. In times to come, trickle agape into briny tide pools; gestate new life forms, friends for Earth.
Fire, you have devoured with unbridled appetite all that wind sets in your fierce path. The bluebird cries over her young. The worst of it—hope buried under surging sands. In times to come, devour viruses that feed on lungs. Let them know destruction.
Earth, you have turned against your people who have depleted your once fecund ground and poisoned the blood in your veins, cracking fissures in search of fuels. You quake with rage. Earth, in times to come, shelter the rabbit in her burrow, ease her birth pangs, lick mucus from the kits’ noses and teach them where to find scrumptious dandelion leaves. They’ll come along, won’t they, dandelions? To the new world?
DIG DEEP WITHIN OURSELVES
Our Earth that has nurtured us for millennia continues to nurture some of us still, and I am grateful. She is our mother. If we act quickly and decisively, she may continue to nurture us for millennia to come. My thoughts lately have been on mothers of the future—who will survive?
I’m enjoying a personal resurgence of motherhood this Lammas as I kneel to pick green beans, zucchini and cucumbers with my son, Jeff. He ordinarily isn’t here in Michigan with us this time of year. He lives outside the U.S. But he was stranded by the COVID-19 pandemic because his Caribbean country isn’t accepting travelers from the U.S. until we drastically reduce our infections.
As I sat at dinner and bit into a fresh green bean, I was filled with gratitude for the first fruits of summer. On the same day, I read an article in The New York Times reporting on a published study this July in the journal Nature Climate Changeabout polar bears. Done by Peter K. Molnar of the University of Toronto, the research predicts polar bears excepting one small subpopulation in the high Arctic would be extinct by this century’s end if greenhouse gas emissions continue as they have been. The warming, rising seas are making it impossible for the bears to hunt seals. It’s seal fat that allows bears to fast for months, even while nursing. Yes, fasting while nursing. But mother polar bears do not have infinite energy and can nurse their young while fasting only so long. When their energy is depleted, they starve.
I try to avoid heartbreaking pictures of those starving bears, but I know they are there. Just as I know we must address climate change quickly, but I don’t like to think about it.
An environmentalist spoke last Sunday during our Unitarian Universalist virtual service about things we can do to help Earth, our home.
Number one was to listen to our children. He said his granddaughter, a college student, told him she and many of her friends don’t plan to have children—they see an extremely bleak future for the planet.
Our planet is on a virtual respirator. Action is our best hope.
U.S. citizens, please vote on Nov. 3. Check out former Vice President Joe Biden’s environmental plan here. It’s all-encompassing and inclusive. We need big, big, action to make Earth healthy again. It takes all of us—educators, government, scientists, activists, corporations, parents and children, business and industry to slow climate change.
Joe Biden plans to provide jobs while healing our Earth.
He calls it “the Biden plan to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and equitable clean energy future.” It’s a comprehensive plan that addresses creating more American jobs and rebuilding the middle class. Its focus is on people of all backgrounds and all communities. Its vast umbrella includes housing, schools, agriculture, clean energy, infrastructure, cleaning up and reclaiming polluted fossil fuel sources, transportation, technology, environmental justice, clean water, and expanding broadband. It would create a Civilian Climate Corps to use science-based techniques for smart stewardship of public lands. Goals of Biden’s plan include among other things, to sustainably manage forests, restore wetlands, protect coastlines, sequester carbon, support biodiversity and fisheries, remove invasive species, improve wildlife corridors and plant millions of trees to reduce heat stress in urban neighborhoods.
Excepting the grief and horrors of the pandemic, for the first time in a long time, I’m encouraged. When we climb out of this recession, we have an opportunity to innovate, to build toward a sustainable future. One of Biden’s slogans is, “Build Back Better.” But it’s going to take a U.S. Congress dedicated to work with Biden. Republicans have had plenty opportunity to be clear about their stand on climate change. They stand squarely with the fossil fuel industry. As part of my gratitude to Mother Earth, this fall, I’m setting intentions to work for leaders who are committed to work with Biden to Build Back Better.
It takes effort. It also takes faith. I believe that when we dig down deep inside ourselves and consult our inner wisdom, when we take time to mark the turning of the wheel of the year, when we honor on Lammas our first fruits and bake our sacred loaves, when we live in gratitude for the grace that is found amid circles of friends joined with spirit, praying and lighting candles, loving one another and setting intention, we can change our path of destruction to one of healing. And we will know that all is well.
In the Celtic tradition during ancient times, people celebrated the first harvest festival by cutting corn and baking a loaf to offer to the Goddess in thanksgiving.
A Short Lammas Ritual
Sprinkle a table in your house or a blanket outside on grass with salt water or a bit of fresh herbs such as bay leaf, rosemary or thyme to clear negative energies.
Call the directions:
Gentle spirits of air, of birdsong and soft breezes, whisper a tune of hope in our ear as we sleep each night.
Gentle spirits of fire, kindle our passion to work for a healthy planet.
Gentle spirits of water, flow love into our souls for social justice action.
Gentle spirits of Earth, root us in the firm ground of equity, fairness and strength.
Light a candle and place a loaf of bread in the center of the table. It may be made of corn or zucchini or some other first fruit of summer. Cut the loaf and with each cutting say: Earth, we give thanks for your bounty. Each participant (in person or virtually) eats a piece and in turn states what they are thankful for and what intent they set to express gratitude with action before Fall Equinox.
When you are finished, thank North, West, South and East for their guidance and protection.
Blow out the candle.
Here is the zucchini bread recipe we fell in love with when my children were little and which we are using this summer as we harvest prolific zucchinis:
1 1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. canola oil
2 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. grated zucchini
1 C. chopped nuts (optional—we like walnuts, but use whatever appeals to you)
Beat the eggs, sugar and oil together. Add dry ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Bake in 2 loaf pans that you have sprayed with oil 350 degrees for 1 hour.