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12 Steps for Becoming Friends with the Earth



Each of the following steps has several questions to help you explore how you might put that step into practice.  Use these steps as guides each time you want to explore the beauty and healing power of creations, your place in creations, and how to protect and share creation with others.

1.  See the faces of the earth.  What are some of the earth’s “faces” (views – e.g., sunrise and sunset) that you enjoy?  When, where and how do you or could you see these and other faces of the earth more fully?  Do you like photography?  We tend to see more when we have a camera with us.  And the pictures we take provide us with the faces of the earth we personally love and can be shared with others.


2.  Learn her names and stories.  What are some of your favorite species of animals, trees, flowers, etc., and how could find out more about them?  How are you learning about the story of the earth and/or the universe as a whole?


3.  “Commune-icate” with the earth.  Do you have some special places where you feel close to nature?  Could you visit them more regularly?  How are you present to the earth in those places?  What are you learning from the different species there?


4.  Touch the earth.  What are some ways you can touch the earth more carefully with your hands and feet? Do you have or help with a garden? What opportunity do you have for hiking or nature walks?


5.  Apologize to the earth.  What are some of the ways you have hurt the earth and how can you more sincerely and effectively apologize and make amends for those hurts?


6.  Eat with the earth.  Have you ever thought of having a picnic with the earth, perhaps just you and the earth or you and another special friend?  This would be a time when you would just enjoy and communicate with the earth.  Where would be some good places for you to have these picnics?  What would be appropriate foods to bring for such picnics?  Some people like to bring fruit from the earth and some bread that they bake themselves, so that both are each contributing something to the meal.


7.  Sing and dance with the earth.  What songs or dances do you know that you can sing with the earth and/or teach others?  What songs does the earth sing that you could listen to more carefully?


8.  Praise the earth and her Creator.  What Psalms, other biblical passages, or other hymns of praise could you say regularly?  Check out Psalm 148 especially, but also Psalms 8, 65, 104, 136, 145, 147.  Consider writing your own psalm, song, or love letter.


9. Exchange gifts with the earth.  What gifts do you receive from the earth?  What gifts are you giving or could you give to the earth?  Some plant trees as a way of giving something back to the earth.  Can you do this or support groups doing this? See the website of Global Releaf for suggestions.


10.  Protect the earth; stand in defense of creation.  What are you doing individually and as a school or faith community to protect the earth?  Be sure to consider both life-style decisions and social change activities addressing political and economic policies that harm the earth.   Check the websites of the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation.


11.  Make your friendship/commitment explicit.  Learn (or write your own) and share a “covenant” or “pledge of allegiance” to the earth: “I pledge allegiance to the world; to cherish every living thing; to care for earth and sea and air, with peace and justice everywhere.”  Write a letter of friendship to the earth in which you celebrate her, tell her what you like best about her, thank her for her gifts, apologize for hurting her, name how you will protect her more, and anything else you want to say.  Create an I LOVE THE EARTH book of your photographs, postcards, and reflections.


12. Share your friend/concern with others.  How and with whom could you share these steps, become public witnesses (“prophets”) on behalf of the earth?  What about raising some of these issues at school and/or with your faith community, perhaps an article for a school/church newsletter and/or a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.  Share your I LOVE THE EARTH book with friends.


Excerpt from “Stewards of God’s Gifts,” by Jim McGinnis. Read the complete text.