Dear Mother Earth,
I’m writing this letter because this is really, really hard to say and I wanted to make sure I’m telling you everything I need to express. I screwed up, beloved Mother, and I’m really, really sorry.
I don’t want this letter to become about me and have you feeling sorry for me. Instead, I want to be as clear as possible about the ways that I have wronged you and my intent to make amends. I’m not sure if you’re the type to feel guilty, but if you are, I want you to know that you should not ever feel guilty when I’ve wronged you. It’s never your fault when I behave badly.
I know this letter is only a partial list, because despite my best efforts, I have blind spots and I’m sure there are yet more ways that I’ve not lived up to my end of a loving, reciprocal relationship. I can only hope that my blind spots also include the ways that I have been good to you and hopefully that will somewhat mitigate the harm I’ve done, and am doing to you every day.
As a child, I remember being so in love with you and wanting to spend all my free time (except when reading) with you and enjoying your beauty, your riches, your diversity among your flora, fauna, and mineral. I rolled in your grass, smelled and picked your flowers, climbed your trees, and watched your skies and water. I felt caressed by the sun and wind, and tickled by the insects.
Like with all adolescents, I eventually became more interested in other things and I must’ve started to feel that I outgrew you. I spent more and more time indoors, in front of the TV watching I Dream of Jeannie and shows like that, none of which really compare to you.
I also started to be more of the consummate consumer: driving, traveling, purchasing, disposing of, acquiring, coveting. I spent less and less time thinking about you or spending time with you. Rarely did I really think about what you needed or even that you missed me. Savoring time with you was mostly limited to a few hikes and vacations, and not meant for daily participation. You have always been my best friend, and you didn’t even make the “B List” for most of my life.
I was oblivious most of my life to the fact that what I do and purchase affects you. Making sustainable choices became increasingly complex, but I didn’t even pay attention to that. I’ve made some attempt to keep taking public transportation, and I always recycle, but that’s a pretty pathetic attempt to reciprocate the care and generosity you have shown to me my whole life.
In short, beloved Mother, I have taken you for granted, and the degree of my selfishness keeps revealing itself to me, especially now during the pandemic when I have time to reflect on my ways. I’ve tried to imagine how my behavior must have felt to you. I can only imagine what it feels like for my child to all but completely ignore me, even after she’s full grown and should know better.
Dear Mother, I’m so sorry for acting like you don’t matter and for acting so selfishly. You do matter. You matter more than anyone or anything, because none of us/it is possible without you.
I know that my apology is too little, too late in so many ways but I want to make amends anyway. It may not matter to you at this point, but making amends is the only way that I can begin to clear my conscience for the years of neglect I’ve given in response to your generosity and forgiveness. I know even this list is inadequate since just living where I do means taking from you in ways I cannot understand or control.
But I have to start somewhere, and this is where I’ll begin:
- Since there should be resources for everyone and lots left for you, I resolve to reduce consumption and waste as much as possible. I will amend my current practices to attempt 100% recycling and/or zero waste.
- Since chemicals harm me and the plants and animals that are my sisters, I will go completely organic in my garden and lawn.
- Because waste and fuel consumption are so harmful to all of us, I will buy organic, local, or used/vintage products as much as possible.
- Since you matter, and I love you, I will spend time with you every day, being totally present. I will notice and appreciate your flora, fauna, and minerals since they are my sisters. I will listen, and walk with empathy and compassion when in your presence.
- Since the ecosystem cares for me, I will do my best to care for the community of flora, fauna, and minerals in my little lot, and for those that pass through.
- Since you love me unconditionally, I will open my heart to your presence every day, and remember how fortunate I am to be cared for by such a generous, patient, and brilliant provider. I will not take for granted the gifts of sustenance, entertainment, delight, and inspiration you provide every day.
- Since you have a right to be who you are without judgement, I will not be angry, frustrated, or disappointed when the weather or other conditions are not to my liking. Everyone is entitled to being authentic, regardless of whether one feels calm, angry, unwell, or happy. I’m grateful for another day with you, regardless of what you do or don’t do for me each day.
- Since you deserve the best care, as you’ve cared for us, I will work hard to help others remember how much they love and appreciate you too. You don’t deserve to be taken for granted by me or anyone else, and it’s my responsibility to help everyone be in touch with their love and affection for you.
- Since I should do all I can to care for you, I will vote with my feet, my money, and at the ballot box by putting you first.
Dear Earth, I know this is only a starting point. I will continue to learn and grow in my ability to be the caretaker for you that you need me to be. I beg your patience and forgiveness while I learn, though I know these lessons are long overdue. I understand if you feel I’ve fallen short and I promise I’ll do my best either way.
Your loving daughter,