Earth as seen from space.

Photo by Javier Miranda on Unsplash

Our spirit and sanctuary reveal our motives and actions for Earth Day

April 20, 2023 

Regardless of one’s interpretation of this celebrated day, it’s one we all share regardless of race or political persuasion. Let’s face it, if you’re an earthling, Earth Day belongs to you. 

Then I saw a new spirit-world above and a new earth below, for the first spirit-world and the first earth had gone away, and the great waters of the sea were no longer there. I saw a new Sacred Village of Peace (Jerusalem), coming down from the Great Spirit in the world above and dressed in wedding regalia, like a bride made ready for her husband. (Book of the Great Revealing/Revelation 21:1-2, First Nations Version)

This of course is the hope of eternity’s perfection of creation. The things we can all do to support and enrich the environment in which we live and share in the meantime seems to be the general idea behind Earth Day. These days, that encompasses so many different things worth wrestling with, as our habits will predict our desired outcomes regarding the land and atmosphere we inhabit. Originally observed on April 22, 1970, Earth Day is an open invitation to take action on something that really should be a part of our everyday existence. In this publication, I have previously discussed the details of the annual event and its founding in the context of an Eco-theology based on the understanding of its origins.

You might wish to determine if there is a personal philosophy of the sacred embedded in the idea of Earth Day for you. For example, for many indigenous persons and mixed-race individuals like me of American Indian extraction, the concept of Earth Day is something innate—it lives within and has become part of my daily life. One habit that has become a way of life for me is plant-based eating as opposed to animal-based eating, something that I began doing originally for health reasons. As the years have passed, I know the earth has benefited due to this lifestyle, one shared by millions of others. In its own way, doing so has brought me closer to God. Therefore, it is sacred.

Our habits will predict our desired outcomes regarding the land and atmosphere we inhabit. Is there a personal philosophy of the sacred embedded in the idea of Earth Day for you that moves you to preserve, protect, and restore our earth?

A holy and important portion of my life was once devoted to training and behavioral modification of the domestic dog in the atmosphere of mostly urban in-home private instruction for dog owners. I look back on it as a two-way contribution to making the earth a better place for both human and canine. Not only did it permit me to grow closer to my canine friends, dogs that received competent training and “pack” acclimation were less likely to be re-homed or euthanized, therby according Creator a more balanced ecosystem with which to be pleased. These delightful memories rest well within the sanctuary of my heart.

Other applications have had more to do with my struggle to maintain well-being against disease or disequilibrium. Generally, those in the Cherokee community who make use of a medicine bag are not in the habit of revealing what is inside it. For the past four-and-a-half years I have been dealing with a serious, chronic illness and during that time a dear brother and Cherokee Nation citizen named Richard made a medicine bag for me. I’ll deviate from the “tradish” momentarily by saying I have received much comfort from the items I have placed inside it–a lock of my wife’s still-lovely hair, a clipping of our dog’s fur, her friend Rosie’s fur (our sweet and seemingly caffeine-infused neighbor dog), both quite meaningful since I’ve been accused of being “half-man/half dog,” something I embrace with the utmost pride considering the revelation in the previous paragraph; my friend Myles’ 1943 penny, and my cousin Paul’s Cherokee syllabary (similar to our alphabet) pin, to name a few. These things ground me to the earth as I stroll across it feeling the bag beneath my shirt and remind me that I do not walk alone on this journey. And Earth Day is always special for me because it falls on my birthday. Thus, it makes it easy for me to wax “eco!”

What about you? How is the condition of your spirit as it relates to the sanctuary in which it resides? I’ve no doubt that there are things in your “sacred bag” that connect you to the ideas supporting Earth day. Perhaps they derive from your experiences. It might be our wonderfully held conviction that nuclear weapons should never again be utilized and ought to be eliminated, like now. Or maybe it is something you’ve long thought about doing but haven’t gotten around to because, like many of us, you are still recovering from what I like to call “pandemic funkitis.” Whatever it might be, the ideals that shine light on Earth Day are worthy of your contributions, and vice versa.

Preserving, protecting, and restoring our earth should be something we do with regularity and joy. We all know by now that our collective future depends on it.

Rev. Bryan D. Jackson is an American Baptist minister and a member of the Cherokee Community of Puget Sound and the Mt. Hood Cherokees, both satellite communities of the Cherokee Nation. He lives on Vashon Island, Washington and is the author of Chattahoochee Rain: A Cherokee novella.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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