Hope and healing for Earth: Earth Day 2012
Anyone who knows the Sisters of Providence and our Providence Associates knows of our commitment to hope and healing of Earth. We channel much of our energy in this regard through the ministry of White Violet Center for Eco-justice. However, it is the rare Sister of Providence or Providence Associate who is not individually committed to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and to taking seriously the role of humankind in the vast web of cosmic creation.
Naturally, our charism of Providence adds a depth and mystery to our commitment to Earth and its wellbeing. Providence — source of all that is and designer of our intricate and mystical interconnectedness with all that is — continues to draw us deeper and deeper in our understanding and appreciation for how creation reveals the loving designs of God.
We will hold our 14th Annual Earth Day here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Sat., April 21, 2012. Our website gives a detailed outline of the events of the day, and we welcome all our friends and neighbors to join us!
The first celebration of Earth Day occurred in the U.S. on April 22, 1970. It was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. senator representing the state of Wisconsin. He conceived the idea of Earth Day as result of witnessing the effects of a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif. On the Earth Day Network website, you will find this summary of the first celebration:
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”
Then, also from the Earth Day Network website, we learn Earth Day went international in the 1990s and grew and grew as the millennium unfolded.
This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.
As the millennium approached, Dennis Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.
Perhaps, as all of us around the globe celebrate Earth Day 2012, we can remember with thanks those whose commitment and insight have brought the day to prominence and the needs of Earth into the forefront of religious, social, political and economic consciousness.
Perhaps, as we celebrate Earth Day 2012, we can individually or as a family or as a religious congregation or a faith community continue to commit ourselves to “hope and healing for Earth.” No act is too small; no prayer will go unheard by the God of Providence, in whom we find our hope and our healing always.
Happy Earth Day! And join us at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for the absolute best celebration of this day on planet Earth!
You and all your loved ones are in the daily prayer of the Sisters of Providence and of our Providence Associates.
Sister Denise Wilkinson
Sisters of Providence