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EARTH Saints and

Heroes Earth Saints and Heroes A publication of the

A publication of the

Loretto Earth Network

Loretto Earth Network

In Honor of the 200th Anniversary of the Sisters of Loretto, founded in Kentucky April 25, 1812

Earth Saints and Heroes A publication of the

Loretto Earth Network For additional copies contact: Nancy Wittwer SL Loretto Staff Office 590 East Lockwood Avenue St. Louis, MO 63119 314-962-8112

Cost: $ 5.00 + postage


A publication of the

Loretto Earth Network Editor: Mary Ann Coyle SL Layout: Nancy Wittwer SL i

Contents Introduction Page 1 By Mary Ann Coyle SL May Boeve Pages 2-3 By Nancy Wittwer SL Julia Butterfly Hill Pages 4-5 By Maureen Fiedler SL Majora Carter Pages 6-7 By Beth Blissman CoL Barbara Kingsolver Pages 8-9 By Annie Stevens SL Vandana Shiva Pages 10-11 By Mary Ann Coyle SL Judy Cannato Pages 12-13 By Beth Blissman CoL Annie Dillard Pages 14-15 By Annie Stevens CoL Frances Moore LappĂŠ Pages 16-17 By Molly Kammien Wangari Maathai Pages 18-19 By Maureen Fiedler SL Mary Oliver Pages 20-21 By Maureen McCormack SL Jane Goodall Pages 22-23 By Carole Eschen SL Wendell Berry Pages 24-25 By Maurice Lange


Contents Dorothy Stang Pages 26-27 By Martha Alderson CoL Thich Nhat Hanh Pages 28-29 By Maureen McCormack SL Thomas Merton Pages 30-31 By Mary Luke Tobin SL Thomas Berry Pages 32-33 By Gail Worcelo sgm Rachel Carson Pages 34-35 By Mary Ann Coyle SL Aldo Leopold Pages 36-37 By Maurice Lange Teilhard de Chardin Pages 38-39 By Bernadette Bostwick sgm John Muir Pages 40-41 By Nancy Wittwer SL Henry David Thoreau Pages 42-43 By Molly Kammien Julian of Norwich Pages 44-45 By Karen Cassidy CoL Francis of Assisi Pages 46-47 By Beth Blissman CoL Hildegard of Bingen Pages 48-49 By Karen Cassidy CoL About the Authors Pages 50-52


DEDICATION THE LORETTO EARTH NETWORK DEDICATES THIS BOOKLET TO ALL LORETTO STUDENTS, PAST AND PRESENT, ESPECIALLY TO THE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AT Loretto Academy in El Paso Nerinx Hall High School in St. Louis Kansas City Academy in Kansas City St. Mary’s Academy in Denver and to THE 2012 EIGHTH GRADE GRADUATES AT Havern School in Denver Loretto Academy in El Paso St. Mary’s Academy in Denver Kansas City Academy in Kansas City MAY YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE LEAD YOU TO BE BUDDING SAINTS AND HEROES OF EARTH

Our long and vital tradition of teaching takes many forms; we desire to educate others as well as ourselves to truth, beauty, and the ways of peace, in the spirit of Jesus.

—I Am The Way

Loretto Constitution


Introduction By Mary Ann Coyle SL

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. — Harriet Tubman


here do you find hope in these troubled times when Earth is under assault and Earth’s resources are simply thought of as products to be bought and sold?

Governments, both national and global, are in gridlock, unable to address serious planetary issues. The Copenhagen World Summit on Climate Change, held in December 2009, didn’t satisfy the world’s expectations. The nations were unable to set goals to significantly alleviate climate change or even challenge their citizens to promote sustainable energy policies. Two years later came the Durban Climate Change Conference. This global conference was a bit better but still a disappointment. Do you wonder if we’re looking for answers in the wrong places? Thomas Berry tells us that the task before us is not economic or political. It is primarily a spiritual task steeped in the belief that the Universe is sacred and is the primary revelation of the Divine. He feels that this understanding is the creative task—the Great Work of our times. You will find in the pages of this booklet others like Thomas Berry who “get it” and whose life and actions are motivated by a spirituality of intimacy with the natural world. If you are in sync with Berry’s thought, you know it will take many ordinary people doing ordinary things to light the fire. We have lots of examples, but just think about Bill McKibben’s movement and how it caught on and circled the globe. His book, Eaarth, published in 2010, subtitled “Making a Life on a Tough New Planet,” is a must read. He describes how he and six seniors from Middlebury College made a difference as they walked the peaks and valleys of Vermont’s Green Mountains, camping out in nature on land belonging to the farmers and encouraging others to join them and experience the trek and ultimately carry signs pointing out nature’s need for footprints that make less carbon in the atmosphere. Together they had the will and passion to move forward. Faced with seemingly overwhelming problems, they did not become paralyzed but continued to promote the vision. We are always inspired by the lives and actions of people just like us who have seen a need and worked together to bring about change. After brainstorming names of persons, the coordinators of the Loretto Earth Network chose 24 from a very long list that we would call Earth Saints/Heroes. Our hope is that somewhere within the pages that follow, you will find a mentor to inspire your journey through life. You and your friends might talk together and name another set of Earth Heroes and add them to your facebook and/or twitter accounts for sharing. Maybe you can organize a grassroots movement based on your sense of being an integral member of this sacred Earth community. Keep your attention on learning to relate rightly: with the cosmos, with Earth, with all creatures inhabiting creation, and all will be well. —Diarmuid O’Murchu April 25, 2012 Earth Saints and Heroes


May Boeve

Climate Change Activist By Nancy Wittwer SL


ay Boeve got an early start in her role as an activist on behalf of Earth. At the age of 4 she asked her mother to help her write a message to then-President George W. Bush requesting that he make it illegal to harm animals, including insects. As May grew older her love and concern for all creation and her commitment to action intensified and she wanted to be surrounded by others who also had a passion for changing the world. When it came time to select a college, May travelled to Vermont to attend Middlebury, a college where environmental consciousness was a daily part of campus life. But even there May sometimes felt isolated. It took time to find friends and to build community with others who shared her concerns. Once her “Sunday Night Group,” an action-oriented environmental and social justice group, began to take shape there was no stopping these committed and energetic college students who were influential in making Middlebury College the first of its size to go carbon-neutral. In the summer of 2005 they embarked on a 15,000-mile road trip travelling in a remodeled school bus powered by vegetable oil. Along the way they spoke about clean energy as a solution to climate change and collected signatures on a “Clean Car Pledge” to give voice to consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. The tour ended in Detroit where they met with CEOs of the top three auto industries, presented the signatures and discussed their vision of a strategy to create a greener, cleaner product and stimulate economic growth while providing people with meaningful jobs. Due to their nonconfrontational approach, that day new alliances were created among the student activists, union members, and corporate executives. As graduation neared, May wrote her thesis on the Big Three auto companies and all that she learned through this adventure. Her environmental activism did not go unnoticed. In 2006, in recognition of her achievements, May was awarded the coveted Brower Youth Award that honors young environmental leaders. Before graduation May and her friends joined with Bill McKibben, scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, who was among the first to sound the alarm about climate change with the 1989 publication of his book The End of Nature. Together, in January 2007, they initiated the 2

climate change movement “Step It Up” and created the first web-based call for action by communities throughout the US. Just three months later, on April 14th, the Step It Up National Day of Climate Action brought together communities in more than 1,400 locations, all holding up banners that said: Step It Up, Congress — Cut Carbon 80% by 2050. After leaving Middlebury Boeve and her cohorts expanded their focus beyond the US by co-founding, with Bill McKibben, “,” an international grassroots climate change movement. May now serves as executive director of “” and in that capacity she works on political strategies and oversees international partnership programs working with thousands of people in almost every country on Earth. Despite her many global responsibilities May uses her political science background to keep a sharp eye focused on the U.S. Congress and what our domestic legislation signals to the rest of the world. On October 24, 2009, the first major campaign was launched by “” It was fashioned to mobilize world opinion in advance of the UN negotiations in Copenhagen in the hope that world leaders would forge a binding international climate change agreement. CNN called it “the most widespread day of political action in our planet’s history.” Although discouraged by the failure of the negotiations, May and her companions were not defeated. They continued to keep climate change in the forefront by organizing annual global campaigns to keep pressure on world leaders. May and the team also collaborated with Bill McKibben in writing Fight Global Warming Now: The Handbook for Taking Action in Your Community. For more information and a complete list of resources go to http://www.billmckibben. com/fightglobalwarmingnow/global-warmingresources.html. Also visit

Earth Saints and Heroes

Building a Global Movement to Solve the Climate Crisis

“” International Day of Action 10/10/10

Step It Up National Day of Climate Action 11/03/07

School children in Cebu City, Philippines

Moving Planet Day 9/24/11

Boulder, CO: Walk for a Change—Stop Global Warming

“” Candlelight Vigils during Copenhagen Negotiations 10/24/09

Marchers in Cairo, Egypt form a human Nile representing the vulnerabillity of Egypt’s river.

College Church in St. Louis, MO

In May Boeve’s Own Words S

o much is possible right now. I’m against cynicism, but I also want a pragmatic politics, where people feel like they can achieve victories and not just hope and pray that things will be different someday. I want to be part of a movement that creates political space to really create a paradigm shift.


e know we need to move beyond fossil fuels, and we have the tools to do it. What we most need is a movement of people committed to this goal. So for one day, around the world, we’ll actually get moving — on bikes and roller skates, boats and our own feet, to show that we’re ready for this transition.


f we can work with our neighbors and rebuild our communities, then our political leaders can surely do what we hired them to do: pass the policies that will dramatically and immediately wean us off fossil fuels.


cientists say that 350 ppm is the safe upper limit of carbon in the atmosphere. It’s a symbol of a world where murderous heat waves, massive flooding and oil spills, large and small, are not the new norm — as well as a vision of a more just and whole planet that we can build together. Earth Saints and Heroes


any people don’t even try to make a difference, and if you want to, you’re special. It’s that passion that really counts. Have a lemonade stand and donate the money you make to your cause. I did this when I was 12, and PETA got $12 out of it. What I got was more valuable: the sense that with a little group of friends, some signs and one afternoon, I could contribute to something.


ne week can make a difference! For example: most senators don’t hear from their constituents, but it’s their job to listen to us. For one week, become a presence in your senators’ lives, in their offices, on their message machines and e-mail boxes. Speak with passion and with stories. That’s a week of your whole life, and a week out of theirs, and you give them reason to listen to you and hear nonstop about an issue that matters.


ealing with climate change is already a race against time. Another round of scientific evidence has revealed how little time is left to dramatically cut emissions. Nervous senators may want to delay action, but it’s unlikely chemistry and physics will bend to fit the political calendar. As politicians continue to whine, the planet continues to warm.


Julia Butterfly Hill By Maureen Fiedler SL


n the annals of the environmental movement, few actions have caught more attention, created more controversy and inspired more activists than the “tree sitting” of Julia Butterfly Hill. She initiated her historic action to prevent the Pacific Lumber Company from clear cutting historic redwood trees near Stafford, California. In December 1997, she climbed a 1500-year-old redwood tree and lived there for 738 days – more than 2 years. She named the tree “Luna.” Her living space at the top of the tree was a 6 x 6 foot platform. Food was hoisted to her with ropes by a ground crew. To cook meals, she used a single-burner propane stove. For exercise, she literally walked the tree trunk, often letting the tree sap stick to her feet for better traction. Throughout her time in the arms of Luna, she endured freezing rains, “El Nino” 40 mph winds, helicopter harassment, a ten-day siege by company security guards, and intimidation by angry loggers. The “tree sit” ended when the logging company agreed to preserve Luna and all the trees for a 200-foot radius. Julia was born in 1974 to a family that lived in a camper. Her father was a travelling preacher. As they travelled, Julia often explored rivers. And, as the story goes, a butterfly landed on her finger when she was 6… and thus, she earned the middle name, “Butterfly.” Eventually, the family settled in Jonesboro, Arkansas. But it is something of a miracle that Julia was even alive to think about sitting in a redwood tree. At age 22, as she was driving, a drunk driver rear-ended her car. The steering wheel penetrated her skull, and she needed a full year of therapy before she could walk or speak normally. But that tragedy led to a year of reflection and the eventual re-orientation of her life. “I had been obsessed by my career, success and material things. The crash woke me up to the importance of the moment, and doing whatever I could to make a positive impact on the future. The steering wheel in my head, both figuratively and literally, steered me in a new direction in my life,” Hill says. Eventually, that “new direction” was environmental spirituality and action. Since her famous “tree sit,” she has been in demand as a motivational speaker, booking about 250 engagements a year. But her activism continues. In July, 2002, she was jailed in Quito, Ecuador, outside the offices of Occidental Petroleum for protesting a proposed oil pipeline that would 4

penetrate an ancient Andean forest that teems with rare birds. In 2003 she began to “re-direct” her federal taxes. Instead of paying the government, she donated about $150,000 to after-school programs, arts, culture, community gardens, environmental protection, alternatives to incarceration and programs for Native Americans. In a letter to the IRS, she said: “I’m not refusing to pay my taxes. I’m actually paying them but I’m paying them where they belong because you refuse to do so.” In 2004, I had the privilege of interviewing Julia for the radio show that I host, called Interfaith Voices. At that time, she spoke movingly about the spirituality that is at the center of her life and activism. Part of my the interview with Julia is on the next page. Reprinted from: Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling Maureen Fiedler, editor

Books by Julia Butterfly Hill: The Legacy of Luna: the story of a tree, a woman, and the struggle to save the redwoods (Harper San Francisco, 2000) Becoming: A book of artwork, poetry and short non-fiction stories (self published, 2011) Co-author: One Makes the Difference: Inspiring Actions that Change our World (HarperOne, 2002) Earth Saints and Heroes

Julia Butterfly Hill’s Own Words On Saving the Redwoods

Maureen Fiedler (MF): How do you name that which is holy for you?

MF: And so your time in Luna was your time for reconnecting with the earth?

Julia Butterfly Hill (JBH): I actually call it the Universal Spirit. And I call it that because one of the things that I realized while in the tree: … when I pray, it’s about deep questioning, and I believe very strongly in deep questioning. I even look back to the Bible where Jesus encouraged all of his followers to deep question everything, including him. And somehow we get conditioned over time to deep question only certain things, and to silently agree with other things, even if our hearts might be asking us to question. And so I started questioning in the tree through my prayers. I believe that prayers are deep questioning. And in those prayers, I started realizing that I was receiving answers from so many different places, from the trees, from exchanges with animals, from people. And that’s when I started calling it the Universal Spirit ... And I realized this divine is within all life. And as such, if we pray to that essence, to that spirit, to that sacred source, then the answers can come from all parts of life …

JBH: I feel that very deeply. I didn’t go into the tree expecting to have a deep spiritual epiphany. I only climbed into the tree because it was all I knew to do. I grew up with 2 brothers and no sisters, so I’ve climbed trees my whole life. And when I found out that over 97 percent of these original redwoods were already gone, and that we’re continuing to cut them down to this day in horrifically devastating and polluting ways, my heart compelled me to action. So when I found out that people were sitting in trees in order to protect them, I thought, “That’s something I could do, I know how to sit in trees.” And that’s where I acted from, and I find that in stories of people that I’ve met all over the world …

MF: What is the place of human beings in the midst of creation then? JBH: I think our challenge has been that we forget that we are just another species on this planet. And so we set ourselves apart and separate from them. And one of the things I feel is that all of the issues facing our world are symptoms … of one disease, and I call that disease “separation syndrome,” because when you’re separated from something, you can destroy it. And when you are connected to something, it’s more difficult to destroy it, and that’s people or the planet. And I feel that that disease of separation has led us to a point where we think we can manage nature … we think we are here to do with the planet as we will. And the reality is that we have, in that separation syndrome, become a part of a disease that is eating us alive from the inside out. It is destroying communities, it’s destroying air and water quality, it’s destroying souls and spirits and hearts and minds of people. And so much of our Western culture perpetuates separation, from televisions to cars. So our challenge then as human beings is to find ways to reconnect. And … that is a very big challenge because that means to swim upstream. And we have to find the courage to swim upstream in very challenging times, and find new and creative, and I believe, very importantly, heartfelt and spirit-felt ways of connecting once again with the earth and with each other.

Earth Saints and Heroes

MF: And so essentially the tree drew you into a deeper spirituality? JBH: Yes, that experience of, you know, living in a tree during the worst winter in the recorded history of California, going through a company trying to destroy me with helicopters, and sleep deprivation, and food deprivation. And I remember when the challenges were first coming and there were moments where I was in the tree literally in the fetal position and crying, and begging for help. And … I asked the creator, “Okay what did I do to deserve this? I’m sorry whatever I did, whatever karma I’m having to work off, I apologize.” And then I realized that I was asking for strength, and that the universe said, “Fine, the way to strength is through challenges” …And so it taught me that. The power of prayer is phenomenal, but we also have to be willing to receive the answers. And so: the challenges of finding strength in difficulty, the challenge of finding a place of love and compassion even when there were those around me being extremely violent. And the blessing of having this experience while living in a ancient, ancient elder absolutely connected me to a deeper spiritual path than I ever could’ve imagined in a lifetime, let alone in just a couple of years. 5

Majora Carter By Beth Blissman CoL

“If power plants, waste handling, chemical plants and transport systems were located in wealthy areas as quickly and easily as in poor areas, we would have had a clean, green economy decades ago.” — Majora Carter


ajora Carter, the youngest of 10 children, was born on October 27, 1966, and grew up in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx at a time when many long-time residents were moving to the suburbs. By the time she was ten, many buildings were empty. Landlords would burn down their buildings to collect the insurance. Light manufacturing industries were being replaced by waste facilities. These changes increased pollution and led to high asthma rates, poor health, increasing violence and soaring joblessness. Although many working-class families moved away during the 1960s and 1970s, Majora’s family stayed. From the view of outsiders, those who were left in the South Bronx were branded with the stamp of the ghetto and, as a child, Majora spent much of her time planning her escape. “Education was my way out,” she explained. In 1984, Majora graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, enrolled at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and received a BA in film studies. After completing an MA in creative writing from New York University (1997), she returned to Hunts Point to live with her parents, and work as a volunteer for the Point Community Development Corporation (PCDC). The PCDC had been formed earlier to help revitalize the area’s cultural and economic life, and Carter served first as project director and then associate director of community development (1997-2001). Just when Majora Carter joined PCDC, the New York mayor’s office announced plans to build a waste transfer station in Hunts Point. This meant an ever-increasing environmental impact on the Hunts Point residents. Majora’s work was cut out for her. She organized and launched a campaign against the planned waste facility. Her activism helped defeat the placement of the waste facility, and was a catalyst for Carter to establish and direct a non-profit environmental justice solutions organization, Sustainable South Bronx, in 2001. Here she created the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training (BEST) program, one of the nation’s first urban green-collar job training and placement 6

systems. After four years, the BEST program boasted an 85 percent employment rate in areas such as urban forestry, brown-field clean-up, and green roof installation and maintenance, toxic waste removal, and more. Carter’s solutions to local and global environmental problems rest on poverty alleviation through green economic development. Local jobs empower communities. To bring attention to needed changes, Majora coined the term “Green The Ghetto,” successfully lobbied for the creation of the Bronx River Alliance, spearheaded legislation that fueled demand for green jobs and pushed for a major project, the South Bronx Greenway, securing over $20M in funding. In 2007, she worked with Van Jones to co-found Green For All, a non-profit advocating for a national green-collar job agenda and building a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Since the notion that each and every community deserves greenspace, safe places for children to play and livingwage jobs has environmental and economic implications that span the globe, Majora decided to hand the day-today management of Sustainable South Bronx over to her colleagues. During summer 2008, she formed a for-profit consulting company, the Majora Carter Group. Along with her husband, James Chase, who serves as the group’s vice president for marketing and communications, Ms. Carter has been sharing the experience she gained in Hunts Point with clients in New Orleans, Detroit, and coastal towns in Northeastern North Carolina. The mission of the firm is to “use the green economy and green economic tools to unlock the potential of every place — urban, rural and everywhere in between.” Majora’s vision, drive and tenacity have earned her national recognition as a major figure in the Environmental Justice movement and numerous awards, including a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Genius Fellowship. If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, disjointed, unaware, or discouraged, check websites and hop online to get yourself a dose of Majora Carter — you’ll be glad you did. Earth Saints and Heroes

Majora Carter and Xena

Majora Carter: In her own words



nother catalyst for deciding to make a long-term commitment to Hunts Point was the abandoned puppy that Majora Carter found in 1998 outside a friend’s house near the Point CDC. She rescued the dog, named her Xena, and now credits Xena with helping to lead her to an inspirational shift in perspective. Here is her story of discovering the Bronx River and re– connecting to this place in her own words (from the 2008 pilot of the Promised Land NPR radio series, which Carter hosts): I didn’t always believe in the South Bronx. I moved back here in my early 30s, and to be frank, I moved home because I was broke. Uh-huh – yeah – I did not want to be here. One morning, I went out running with my dog, and suddenly she pulled me into this nasty garbage dump – I had no idea where we were going, but when we got here, it was ... literally garbage piled way over my head. It was early in the morning, and my 80-lb dog kept dragging me along, and eventually, we reached the water — the Bronx River. I knew it was there, but I had never seen the river’s edge because it was lined with industry. And here I was with my dog. It was 6:30 in the morning, and it occurred to me that I had never seen anything so beautiful ... And once I saw the river, I knew that this could be a park — it took some time, and a lot of effort over the years, but creating it helped me realize how things could change in my community ... This is home, and it always will be. This moment confirmed Majora’s belief that people shouldn’t have to move out of their neighborhoods to live in a better one, and sparked a vision of much–needed greenspace in her neighborhood. (At that time, Hunts Point had an average of only one tree per acre, so Majora knew that a park, where families could get connected with nature and each other in a positive, healthy atmosphere, would be a huge community asset.) She began organizing, and helped secure a $10,000 seed grant from a USDA Forest Service program to provide seed money for river access restoration projects. Then, working with other community groups and the Parks Department, over a five-year period she helped leverage that seed money into more than $3 million from the mayor’s budget to build the Hunts Point Riverside Park, the first new South Bronx waterfront park in more than 60 years. In October 2006, she was married at this beautiful park in the presence of 300 friends and family members. Earth Saints and Heroes

e’ve got to decide that we want to live in a world that is sane and happy and healthy for everyone.

nvironmental justice is actually simple: no community should have to suffer more environmental burdens than any other. Clean air and clean water are a minimum standard we should be able to maintain for everyone. When we don’t, public health costs go up, but it goes deeper than that. Proximity to concentrations of fossil fuel exhaust sources has been shown to cause learning disabilities in young children. It’s usually poor kids who live in these areas, and in the U.S., if you’re poor and do badly in school, your chances of going to jail skyrocket. The deeper we look into how our environment affects us, the more clearly we see how costs add up if we conduct planning as though some people’s environmental rights are not as important as others.’ The Bark (, Issue 59, April / May 2010


t has been so rewarding to be part of the changes that are happening in South Bronx. The abandoned buildings that I grew up with have been rehabbed. Some of the people who left the area have found their way back. It’s not perfect here, we have our issues, but ... what excites me is that we are doing this together. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll take all the outside help we can get, and we need it. But we in this community are doing something ourselves about poverty and about the environment. We, and people like us all around the country, are an invaluable resource for sustainability that the country can’t afford to waste.


he phrase, ‘not now’ does not mean ‘not ever’.

Resources • Majora’s Profile on • The Promised Land, Majora’s award-winning public radio show • Green For All • The Majora Carter Group [MCG] • Videos: + Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto + Majora Carter Sizzle-reel + Momentum 2011: Majora Carter + Majora Carter Keynote from AASHE 2011 Conference + Majora Carter: 3 stories of local eco-entrepreneurship + Majora Carter – The Black List Vol 2 + This I Believe – Majora Carter


Barbara Kingsolver By Annie Stevens SL


hen she was seventeen, Barbara Kingsolver won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow Award. Little did she know that, years later, she could feed her family of four a healthy, balanced diet, costing less than six dollars a day, by eating only what they could grow themselves or buy from local farmers. Born in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1955, Kingsolver was raised in Kentucky among people who still remembered hunger from the Depression. Her environmental activism also started early, when she watched farmers struggle as they tried to wean themselves from growing tobacco. She studied ecology and biology at DePauw University and earned a master’s degree from the University of Arizona. A science writer who began writing fiction based on her own experiences living in the Southwest, she faced her own struggle to afford healthy food, qualifying for food stamps in the odd-jobs days before her books made the bestseller lists. Kingsolver’s Arizona novels include The Bean Trees (1988), a novel about a young woman who leaves Kentucky for Arizona, where she lives with a young Cherokee girl; Animal Dreams (1990), the story of a town facing a silent environmental catastrophe; and Pigs in Heaven (1993), a sequel to her first book. These works feature carefully-drawn female protagonists, often single mothers, struggling with their roles as individuals and members of families and communities. Her later novels move into a global perspective, reflecting her own travels. The Poisonwood Bible (1998) is a sprawling colonial morality tale told through the saga of a 1950’s missionary family in the Belgian Congo. Her fifth novel, Prodigal Summer (2000), is set in rural Appalachia; Kingsolver considers it the bridge between her environmental science and her fiction. Her latest novel, The Lacuna (2009), explores Mexico of the 1930’s and such real-life characters as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Leon Trotsky through the eyes of a fictional American diarist. Kingsolver has also written short stories, bilingual poetry, essays, and a study of an Arizona mine strike. She is a frequent contributor to Mother Earth News, National Geographic, and The New York Times. In 2004 she and her family left their home in Tucson, resettling on a farm in southern Appalachia. Every summer since they met, she and her husband, Steven Hopp, a biologist who teaches environmental studies, had been 8

raising fruit and vegetables, and Kingsolver wanted to explore the relationship between food and eating. Their intention was to spend a year of their new rural life eating only what they could grow themselves or buy from local farmers. Her book Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (2007), a memoir which combines environmental reporting and practical advice on planting, recounts their experiences as Virginia farmers and “locavores.” The whole family, including 17-year-old Camille and 9-year-old Lily, participated in the year-long experiment. Each got a “wild card” exception to the locally-raised list (Steven opted for organic fair-trade coffee), but learned to be creative cooks and thoughtful eaters. This included decisions regarding the ethics of eating animals. Lily went into the poultry business, calculating how many eggs and chickens she must sell to earn money for a horse. So she can face killing and selling them, Lily decided not to name her chickens. Her mother pointed out that death is a part of life and eating requires some sacrifice. Even vegetarians kill living plants, not to mention the insects and field animals that inevitably fall to the harvesting process. ‘’You can leave the killing to others and pretend it never happened,’’ Kingsolver writes, “or you can look it in the eye and know it.’’ Ever since the year ended, Kingsolver and her family continue to practice mindful eating and support local farming. They still organize meals around what’s in season and do not eat industrially-produced feedlot meats. Their garden expands every year, and they buy extra fruits and vegetables from the local farmers’ market to freeze or can for easy meals in winter.  By continuing the friendships they made with local farmers during their experimental year, they have found that good home-making, community-building, and healthy living are linked together through the local food chain.  Earth Saints and Heroes

In Barbara’s Own Words I

grew up among farmers. In my school system in east central Kentucky we were all born to our rank, as inescapably as Hindus, the castes being only two: “farm” and “town.” Though my father worked in town, we did not live there, and so by the numinous but unyielding rules of high school, I was farm. It might seem astonishing that a distinction like this could be made in a county that boasted exactly two stoplights, one hardware store, no beer joints, and fewer residents than an average Caribbean cruise ship. After I went away to school, I remained in more or less constant marvel over the fact that my so-called small liberal arts college, with an enrollment of about 2,000, was 25 percent larger than my hometown.


hen I’m cooking, I find myself inhabiting the emotional companionship of the person who taught me how to make a particular dish, or with whom I used to cook it.


n my desk, a glass of water has caught the afternoon light, and I’m still looking for wonders. Who owns this water? How can I call it mine when its fate is to run through rivers and living bodies, so many already and so many more to come? It is an ancient, dazzling relic, temporarily quarantined here in my glass, waiting to return to its kind, waiting to move a mountain. It is the gold standard of biological currency, and the good news is that we can conserve it in countless ways. Also, unlike petroleum, water will always be with us. Our trust in Earth’s infinite generosity was half right, as every raindrop will run to the ocean, and the ocean will rise into the firmament. And half wrong, because we are not important to water. It’s the other way around. Our task is to work out reasonable ways to survive inside its boundaries. We’d be wise to fix our sights on some new stars. The gentle nudge of evidence, the guidance of science, and a heart for protecting the commons: these are the tools of a new century. Taking a wide-eyed look at a watery planet is our way of knowing the stakes, the better to know our place.


hen we walked, as a nation, away from the land, our knowledge of food production fell away from us like dirt in a laundry-soap commercial. Now, it’s fair to say, the majority of us don’t want to be farmers, see farmers, pay farmers, or hear their complaints. Except as straw-chewing figures in children’s books, we don’t quite believe in them anymore. When we give it a thought, we mostly consider Earth Saints and Heroes

the food industry to be a thing rather than a person. We obligingly give 81 cents of our every food dollar to that thing, to—the processors, marketers, transporters, and so on. Less than one-fifth goes to farmers, and corporate “producers” get the lion’s share of that. We complain about the high price of organic meats and vegetables that might actually send back more than two dimes per buck to the humans putting seeds in the ground, harvesting, attending livestock births, standing in the fields at dawn. In the grocery store checkout corral, we learn all about which stars are secretly fornicating, but nothing about the people who grew the cucumbers and melons in our carts.


n important step in anyone’s food security is to recover an understanding of processes—for example, to learn the differences between feedlot meat operations and pasture grazing, why one requires universal use of antibiotics while the other eschews it. Why a pasture-raised chicken lays eggs with crayon-orange yolks, full of healthy beta-carotenes.  Why lettuce comes in early in the growing season, and watermelons arrive late.  When to look for asparagus.  Two generations ago, people knew such things intuitively, but now we may have to learn them from a book.  That’s why we provided a seasonal account of how foods grow – we thought readers might be interested in the natural history of what they eat.  We’ve been very surprised, and delighted that this information has inspired countless readers to try to grow at least a few things themselves.  It’s a very basic human urge, it seems, to plant a seed, watch it grow, provision ourselves first-hand.  I wish everyone could have that experience.


cientific illiteracy is something that worries me every day. At least half the population of this country has not been educated to understand basic, thoroughly documented phenomena like climate change, or even to grasp evolution through natural selection, which has now been the cornerstone of all biological sciences for two centuries.  When a population this uninformed tries to steer environmental policy, it’s like asking a five-year-old to drive the car: we might fully expect calamity.  I’ve noticed that very few people even know that ecology is a field of science—the theoretical study of how living populations interact with one another.  9

Vandana Shiva By Mary Ann Coyle SL


t was July of 2010. The setting on the bank of the Hudson River in New York was ideal. Meeting Vandana Shiva for the first time and listening to her inspiring words was thrilling. The Conference was organized by a small group of women belonging to Sisters of Earth. The theme, The Wisdom of Women, The Wisdom of the Indigenous, was just right. I found Shiva to be as The Progressive describes her, “A burst of creative energy, an intellectual power house.” I immediately felt her presence as a realday Earth Hero. Vandana Shiva, a true voice for sustainability, peace, and social justice, was born in 1952 in India in the shadow of the Himalayas. Her father was by profession a protector of forests, and her mother, a farmer with a deep love of nature. Steeped in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Shiva says of herself, “I have tried to be the change I want to see.” Educated in India and completing graduate studies at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) and at the University of Western Ontario, Shiva had a passion for physics, specializing in nuclear physics. All the while she was puzzling about the impact science and technology had on a society such as India and, in general, on the wellbeing of all people. India, noted for its large scientific community, was still an extremely poor country. Shiva reflected, “Science and technology are supposed to create growth, remove poverty. Where is the gap?” After additional study at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore doing interdisciplinary research in science, technology, and environmental policy, Shiva was well prepared to take on the advocates’ role calling for social justice on behalf of Earth, women, water, farmers, and peoples in many nations. When I was with Shiva in 2010, she had many stories to tell. One such story was centered in Kerala, an Indian costal area. Coca Cola bought land and set up their plant. Once operating, the plant was taking up to two million liters of fresh water per day for bottled water. The rains could not replenish the ground water at the rate it was being removed. It took three years of work with the villagers in Kerala to accomplish the shutdown of the plant and a ruling from a high court stipulating, “Water is a common good that belongs to the community, and Coca Cola must stop.”


Shiva’s interests and avenues for activism are many and diverse. When realizing that corporate takeover of agriculture world-wide was becoming a reality, she founded in 1991 Navadanya (Nine Seeds), a national movement to protect biodiversity, to preserve native seeds, and to protect the land of small farmers. Shiva has travelled the world bringing her wisdom and courage to millions of people concerned about the poisoning of Earth and an economy based on the greed of the few. Frequently it is a story or a tale of an encounter with others that we remember the longest and that has a profound effect on our thinking. Shiva has written twenty-some books, the first Staying Alive (1988) deals with Women, Ecology, and Survival in India. In 1993, she received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, for placing women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse. Time Magazine named her an environmental ‘hero’ in 2003. In her home country of India, Shiva serves on the National Board of Organic Standards. She also works with local Indian states for the promotion of organic farming. In 2011 she visited Bhutan at the request of Prime Minister Jigme Thinley to assess the possibility of Bhutan being 100% organic. In spite of the fact that Bhutan has used small amounts of chemical fertilizer (urea for nitrogen), Shiva predicts that within three years and with a change in farmers’ mindset, it is possible that this country could be 100% organic. Through her travels, teaching at various universities throughout the world, working with green movements whenever asked, speaking at conferences and collaborating with governments and the United Nations, Shiva’s single message is that of being in larger service to Mother Earth. Her goal is always to find alternative ways to approach doors otherwise closed to the needs of all species. She is indeed an Earth Hero.

Earth Saints and Heroes

Vandana Shiva In Her Own Words Uniformity is not nature’s way; diversity is nature’s way.


believe Gandhi is the only person who knew about real democracy—not democracy as the right to go and buy what you want, but democracy as the responsibility to be accountable to everyone around you. Democracy begins with freedom from hunger, freedom from unemployment, freedom from fear, and freedom from hatred. To me, those are the real freedoms on which good human societies are based.


ou are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you.

lobalized industrial food is not cheap: it is too costly for Earth, for the farmers, for our health. The Earth can no longer carry the burden of groundwater mining, pesticide pollution, disappearance of species and destabilization of the climate. Farmers can no longer carry the burden of debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high costs of production. It is incapable of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of land, water, and energy. Industrial agriculture uses ten times more energy than it produces. It is thus ten times less efficient.


ver the past decade we have been gaining ground. And when I say “we,” I mean ordinary people committed to the welfare of all humanity — all people irrespective of gender and class and race and religion. All species on the planet. We managed to take the biggest government and one of the largest chemical companies to court on the case of Neem and win a case against them. W.R. Grace and the US government’s patent on Neem was revoked by a case we brought along with the Greens of the European Parliament and the International Organic Agricultural Movement. We won because we worked together. We have overturned nearly 99% of the basmati patent of Ricetek.


gain, because we worked as a worldwide coalition, old women in Texas, scientists in India, activists sitting in Vancouver, a little basmati action group. We stopped the 3rd World being viewed as the pirate and we showed that corporations were the pirate. Look how little it took for Gandhi to work against the salt laws of the British when the British decided the way they would make their armies and police forces bigger was just to tax salt. And all that Gandhi did was walk to the beach, pick up salt and say, “Nature gives it for free. We need it. We’ve always made it. We will violate your laws. We will continue to make salt.”


he primary threat to nature and people today comes from centralizing and monopolizing power and control. Not until diversity is made the logic of production will there be a chance for sustainability, justice and peace. Cultivating and conserving diversity is no luxury in our times: it is a survival imperative.


f we are serious about ending poverty, we have to be serious about ending the system that creates poverty by robbing the poor of their economic wealth, livelihoods and incomes. Before we can make poverty history, we need to get the history of poverty right. It’s not about how much wealthy nations can give so much as how much less they can take.

Earth Saints and Heroes


e’ve had a similar commitment for the last decade in India: that any law that makes it illegal to save seed is a law not worth following. We will violate it because saving seed is a duty to the earth and to future generations. We thought it would really be symbolic. It is more than symbolic. It is becoming a survival option. Farmers who grow their own seeds, save their own seeds, don’t buy pesticides, have three-fold more income than farmers who are locked into the chemical treadmill, depending on Monsanto and Cargill. We have managed to create alternatives that work for people.


Judy Cannato By Beth Blissman CoL


udy Cannato saw clearly that we, as humans, live as spiritual beings in a world explained by science. She researched and embraced the latest scientific information about cosmology and wove it through her own spiritual journey and that of many other seekers. Judy was a gifted writer, speaker, spiritual director and storyteller who could explain complex scientific information in a manner that was easily understood. Judy was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in May 1949, to Lucille (Truman) and Don LeMaster. Her sister, Linda, was born two years later. Judy grew up in Lucasville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University in 1971. In 1973, she married Phil Cannato, and a year later converted from Methodism to Catholicism, joining St. Monica’s Church in Portsmouth, Ohio. After teaching English composition and poetry at high school and college levels, Judy earned two master’s degrees from John Carroll University in education and religious studies along with a certificate for spiritual direction from the diocese of Cleveland. Becoming a Congregation of St. Joseph associate in 1995, Judy served as a spiritual director at the CSJ’s River’s Edge wellness center for over a decade. Her growing interest in quantum physics and spirituality moved her into presenting retreats and writing on the new cosmology. In the tradition of Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry, Judy Cannato invited spiritual seekers to embrace the ways by which religion and eco-spirituality are informed and illumined by cutting-edge science. Influenced as well by Barbara Marx Hubbard and Fr. Diarmuid O’Murchu, Judy wrote of the connection between all life and humankind. As her writing career evolved, she shared her passion for living into the sacred dimension of reality in many parts of the world via lectures, workshops, and retreats. In 2007, Judy received a Catholic Press Association Award and in 2010 the Sacred Universe Award. Judy loved explaining the new cosmology, the view that the world is an organic whole, a single creation that began over 13.5 billion years ago and in which everything is connected in an integral way, and connecting the new cosmology to Christian spirituality. She gently challenged the outdated mechanistic worldview that saw the cosmos as a machine composed of separate pieces and parts, and invited retreat participants to open themselves to a new paradigm, a new lens through which to view our 12

experience. Judy employed discoveries at both the subatomic (quantum) and universal (astrophysics) level to expose readers to an evolving universe. She explained how modern scientific discoveries demonstrate that, at the most fundamental of levels, all life is connected and that humankind participates in the unfolding of the universe. For example, we live in a culture that fears death, yet supernovas — in all their terrible beauty — remind us that both death and life are part of the same mystery. She integrated vivid images from the Hubble Space Telescope to demonstrate in a very concrete way the immensity of creation and the awe of an emerging universe. Judy noted, “Once we grasp the fundamentals of the new cosmology, we cannot relate to the Holy, one another, or creation in the same way again.” Recognizing that we belong to the cosmos and that the cosmos is rooted in us, transforms all our relationships. Knowing that “all is one,” that the “other” in some way is “my self” generates responses and relationships that are characterized by care and compassion.” She firmly believed that as the number of human beings who practiced this way of seeing increased, humanity would be transformed and live out the compassionate awareness that we are all one. Of course mystics have always asserted that all creation is a unified whole, but most human beings have not lived out of that kind of consciousness because we have been unable to grasp the fundamental unity that is the foundation of mystical consciousness. Thanks to the work of Judy Cannato, we now have more metaphors to describe fundamental unity and additional tools to help cocreate an evolutionary universe. Although Judy died as a result of a rare form of cancer on May 7, 2011, her work employing radically amazing images and metaphors pulls us into a deeper awareness of the Holy in our daily lives.

Earth Saints and Heroes

In Judy Cannato’s Own Words A

ll is sacred, expressive of the Holy, a manifestation of the Divine. Each member of creationkind brings with it a gift for all, and our refusal to accept the gifts of any diminishes the whole.


know I am not alone, that we are connected in the web of life and we feel the connection most powerfully when we operate from within the Field of Compassion ... When each of us vibrates love and compassion, our energy mysteriously unites with the energy of love and compassion all over the planet, augmenting the field of compassion, making its resonance, manifestation, and influence a very powerful force for transformation and healing ... Could there be any greater cause for hope in the community of life? he generosity of the Sun is constant, bathing Earth constantly in light. Like a loving parent she endlessly gives not only all that she has, but all that she is so that her offspring may flourish. Photosynthesis is Earth’s way of receiving the offer, and her response creates an intimate bond between herself and the Sun.



oly Heart of the Universe, help me to see myself in relation to all that is. Help me to recognize the ways that my energy touches all that is, the ways my habits and words affect all the wholes of which I am a part.


ith each advance in human consciousness we gain new powers. For homo erectus, it was the power to use fire. In the Age of Enlightenment, it was the capacity for complex reasoning, resulting in the emergence of empirical science. In the 19th century new powers emerged as democracy took hold in America and France, and we began to recognize that all human beings have inalienable rights to life and liberty. In the 20th century

technological advances that revolutionized economies and communication brought us to the moon, where, for the first time, we could see our planet as one whole, a fragile blue marble suspended in the blackness of space. Each advance has challenged our species to awaken to themselves and to the world in a new way. Accompanying each awakening has been a paradigm shift that recognized the limitations of a former way of seeing and living. And each emergent world view has had a shadow side that challenges humankind to continue to evolve, to continue to grow in awareness, to continue to become more conscious and responsive. We are now at such a moment in our own time — the emergence of a radically new consciousness that challenges us to live in a radically new way.


hose who choose to live life reflectively often look back at moments in life when their customary support gave way and they began a free-fall with nothing to cushion what appeared to be the inevitable impact. In retrospect these experiences are frequently the most grace-filled moments of life, birthing new insights and revealing emergent capacities that unleash life-giving energy and unprecedented creativity.


e cannot afford to be afraid. We haven’t much time. All creation beckons us. Our planet is crying out to hear the voices of love. Books by Judy Cannato: • Field of Compassion: How the New Cosmology is Transforming Spiritual Life, • Radical Amazement: Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas, and Other Wonders of the Universe, • Quantum Grace: Lenten Reflections on Creation and Connectedness Website:

One Way that Judy Cannato’s Work Continues to Live On


hil Cannato, Judy’s husband of 37 years, writes, “What Judy believed with all of her heart is that we are all connected. We are all a part of something much greater than we could ever imagine. She lived her life in the same manner that her words flowed on paper, living in the moment.”

an expert on this material, just a person who wants to know I am connected to all that is, and to know within my heart the peace, joy, compassion, and love that the ‘holy mystery’ has for me.” (After blogging for several months, Phil is taking a break and will continue with Radical Amazement and other works in the future.)

In October 2011, Phil started a blog devoted to his own exploration of the New Cosmology:

“Judy encouraged each of us to take an active role in co-creating with the universe by simultaneously going within to know oneself better and to live in the moment recognizing the connection to all that is. I believe she is asking all of us to find the true essence of who we are and to live life to the fullest.” - Phil Cannato

He invited fans and friends of Judy’s work to join in an online reading and discussion group of Field of Compassion. He writes, “I am certainly not Judy nor Earth Saints and Heroes


Annie Dillard By Annie Stevens SL


nnie Dillard was walking one day along the shore of a small island. She noticed frogs would jump into the water just ahead of her feet. One small frog didn’t jump, so she moved closer. “And just as I looked at him, he slowly crumpled and began to sag. The spirit vanished from his eyes as if snuffed ... He was shrinking before my eyes like a deflating football.” Eventually the skin would sink in the water. Curious, she discovered that a brown beetle had bit the frog from below, injected enzymes into the frog that paralyzed it and turned it to juice, then sucked the frog out of its skin. Things like that happen to Dillard all the time. The island was in Tinker Creek, Virginia, focus of her 1974 book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, in which she set out, like Thoreau, to write “a meteorological journal of the mind.” Followed by Holy the Firm (1978) and Teaching a Stone to Talk (1982), Pilgrim made the name “Annie Dillard” widely known as a writer of creative non-fiction dealing with ecology and spirituality. Few would have imagined such environmental musings from Dillard. Born in 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she was raised in an upper-class family whose world revolved around country clubs, debutante parties, and private girls’ schools. But at a young age she acquired a library card and immersed herself in nature books. Adolescence made Dillard wild, she recalls. After a night of drag racing with older boys ended in an accident that put her in the hospital, her parents sent her to Hollins College near Roanoke, Virginia. They hoped the Southern gentry would calm her down. She studied literature and, at the end of her sophomore year, married her creative-writing teacher. After graduating, she stayed in Roanoke in a house near Tinker Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains. “I proceeded to live a completely enviable life,” she says. “I would read every day. Go to lunch at the Hollins College snack bar, play softball, take a long walk. I was having a wonderful time.” But she soon turned her mind to writing. While recovering from a bout with pneumonia, she quit smoking. To keep from reaching for cigarettes, she filled a spiral notebook with observations. After reading a badly-written nature book, she decided she could do better, and began copying her journals onto index cards, eventually amassing 1,100. Those cards became Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The 1974 book was her first published prose. It won the Pulitzer


Prize and became an immediate success. Readers were astonished at the way Dillard trained her eyes on a small universe—bugs, spiders, and creatures that fly, swim, or crawl. In them she saw evidence of the divine. “To perceive God’s creatures,” she wrote, “is, in a sense, to perceive God.” Whether Dillard’s subjects are great or small, she uses them to magnify big themes. In Holy the Firm (1978), reflections on the plight of a 7-year-old badly burned in a plane crash was the springboard for a debate on the existence of God. In Teaching a Stone to Talk (1982), her minutely detailed descriptions of a solar eclipse launched her into meditations on nature and religion. Literary scholar Pamela Smith raises two questions regarding Dillard’s view of eco-theology. “First, what does she conclude about what she sees nature and creatures doing? Secondly, how does she personally relate or respond?” She links both questions to Thomas Berry’s “primary sacred community” and Elizabeth Johnson’s “living communion” of creation. Although Dillard herself resists categorizing herself as an “eco-theologian”—and has written a variety of other books of poetry and fiction—she does acknowledge her debt to Teilhard de Chardin and other Catholic thinkers. “It would be appropriate to say that my writing fits very squarely in the Christian mystical tradition.” She has for years spent time in a Benedictine monastery: “Everybody laughs all the time. It’s supposed to be silent, but there’s just laughter. You do the Daily Office, Gregorian chant, pray a whole bunch, and work.” Dillard describes herself as a poet and a walker with a background in theology and a penchant for quirky facts. Others call her a writer-philosopher. With her careful language, her keen observation, and her perceptive insights, she is at home writing about life at the bottom of a creek while pondering the existence of God. Earth Saints and Heroes

In Annie’s Own Words O

ne day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance … I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.


ive water heals memories. I look up the creek and here it comes, the future, being borne aloft as on a winding succession of laden trays. You may wake and look from the window and breathe the real air, and say, with satisfaction or with longing, ‘This is it.’ But if you look up the creek, if you look up the creek in any weather, your spirit fills, and you are saying with an exulting rise of the lungs, ‘Here it comes!’


here are no events but thoughts and the heart’s hard turning, the heart’s slow learning where to love and whom. The rest is merely gossip, and tales for other times. The god of today is a tree. He is a forest of trees or a desert, or a wedge from wideness down to a scatter of stars, stars like salt, low and dumb and abiding. Today’s god said: shed. He peels from eternity always, spread; he winds into time like a rind.


he rocks shape life like hands around swelling dough. In Virginia, the salamanders vary from mountain ridge to mountain ridge; so do the fiddle tunes the old men play. All this is because it is hard to move from mountain to mountain. These are not merely anomalous details. This is what life is all about: salamanders, fiddle tunes, you and me and things, the split and burr of it all, the fizz into particulars. No mountains and one salamander, one fiddle tune, would be a lesser world. No continents, no fiddlers. No possum, no sop, no taters. The earth, without form, is void.


ince sand and dirt pile up on everything, why does it look fresh for each new crowd? As natural and human debris raises the continents, vegetation grows on the piles. It is all a stage set – we know this – a temporary stage on top of many layers of stages, but every year fungus, bacteria, and termites carry off the old layer, and every year a new crop of sand, grass, and tree leaves freshen the set and perfect the illusion that ours is the new and urgent world now. When Keats was in Rome, he saw pomegranate trees overhead; they bloomed in dirt blown onto the Colosseum’s broken walls. How can we doubt our own time, in which each bright instant probes the future? We live and move by splitting the light of the present, as a canoe’s bow parts water.

Books written and edited by Annie Dillard * Tickets for a Prayer Wheel (1974) (poems) * Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974) (nonfiction narrative) * Holy the Firm (1977) (nonfiction narrative) * Living by Fiction (1982) (nonfiction narrative) * Teaching a Stone to Talk (1982) (narrative essays) * Encounters with Chinese Writers (1984) (nonfiction narrative) * An American Childhood (1987) (memoir) * The Writing Life (1989) (nonfiction narrative) * The Living (1992) (novel) * Mornings Like This (1995) (poems) * For the Time Being (1999) (nonfiction narrative) * The Maytrees (2007) (fiction)

Earth Saints and Heroes


Frances Moore Lappé By Molly Kammien


hat we consider today as the “food justice movement” is largely due to the ongoing work of Frances Moore Lappé. Lappé has been a leader in the food revolution by creating alternatives to corporate farming and promoting democratic systems in which hunger would be eliminated. Lappé was born in 1944 and grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. She came to the forefront of the food justice movement with her 1971 book Diet for a Small Planet. In the book, Lappé states that we should increase our awareness of what is healthy for our planet and our bodies. She also discusses the environmental dangers of grain-fed meat production and promotes a high protein meat-free diet. Expanding on this idea, Lappé introduces the idea that global hunger is not caused by food scarcity, but instead by poor distribution of the world’s food. Eliminating this “false scarcity” is the basis of her research and life’s work. A few years after the publication of Diet for a Small Planet, Frances and her colleague Joseph Collins founded the Institute for Food Development and Policy, also known as Food First. Food First’s mission was to educate about and eliminate the injustices that cause hunger. It continues today by focusing on the relationship between food justice, and global policy. One part of the organization, the Democratizing Development Program, works to join local and international food movements to bring greater awareness to food systems and climate justice. In addition, it promotes “food sovereignty” by offering alternatives to corporate control for small farmers around the world. As a result of her leadership in the environmental field, Lappé was awarded the prestigious Right Livelihood Award in 1987. This award, which is considered the “Alternate Nobel Prize,” is granted to individuals working towards social improvement in response to the world’s most urgent problems. After receiving the award, Lappé and her husband continued their environmental work by creating the Center for Living Democracy. “Living democracies,” according to Lappé, are societies in which citizens are given a chance to make decisions, pursue collective values, and support “inclusion, fairness and mutual accountability.” She states that a paradigm shift is needed to seeing democracy as part of our daily lives by voicing our values at the grocery store as well as at the ballot box. 16

In 2001, Frances and her daughter Anna founded the Small Planet Institute, an organization that further promotes the idea of living democracy. As part of the Institute, the Lappés have written seven books on democracy and the environment and have traveled to speak on the food justice movement. By supporting democratic social change, the two women have been able to reach out to many organizations looking to create positive social changes in our world. In order to make their ideas a reality, Frances and Anna Lappé also founded the Small Planet Fund in 2001, which offers grants worldwide to groups working to alleviate hunger, poverty and environmental devastation. The Small Planet Fund’s mission supports nutritious food access as a human right, promoting healthy farming environments, defending gender rights, and developing capitalism as a positive social force. Through this organization, Frances has raised over $800,000 to support these eco-movements in countries like India, Brazil, Kenya, and the United States. In her career, Lappé has received 18 honorary doctorates and was granted the “Humanitarian of the Year” award in 2008 by the James Beard Foundation for “her lifelong impact on the way people all over the world think about food, nutrition, and agriculture.” She continues to write and speak with her daughter Anna and published her most recent book, EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want, in 2011. She and Anna continue to live out their motto of “living democracy, feeding hope” throughout the world. Earth Saints and Heroes

In the Words of Frances Moore Lappé E T

very aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.

he real cause of hunger is the powerlessness of the poor to gain access to the resources they need to feed themselves.


lot of people think we find hope by marshaling evidence and proving there is grounds for it. But hope isn’t what we find in evidence; it’s what we become in action.


he act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth.


y whole mission in life is to help us find the power we lack to create the world we want.


e can all reprogram our brain’s responses by putting ourselves into new, initially uncomfortable situations. We’ll learn fear might not mean ‘stop’; I’ve come to believe fear usually means ‘go.’


ven the fear of death is nothing compared to the fear of not having lived authentically and fully. eifer International deserves its stellar reputation. Its approach offers immediate help to our planet’s most vulnerable citizens; and it builds community strength for longer-term solutions. Linking people across continents, Heifer is the positive face of globalization—connecting communities around the world through hands-on projects that get to the root causes of hunger.


hat an extraordinary time to be alive. We’re the first people on our planet to have real choice: we can continue killing each other, wiping out other species, spoiling our nest. Yet on every continent a revolution in human dignity is emerging. It is re-knitting community and our ties to the earth. So we do have a choice. We can choose death; or we can choose life.


’ve grown certain that the root of all fear is that we’ve been forced to deny who we are.


o society has fulfilled its democratic promise if people go hungry … If some go without food they have surely been deprived of all power. The existence of hunger belies the existence of democracy.


unger is a people-made phenomenon. The central issue is power: the power of those who make decisions about what is grown or whom or what it’s grown for.


eing a drop in the bucket is really a magnificent thing if you can see the bucket. The real challenge here is seeing the bucket—seeing what it is in a positive way that our actions are filling up.

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Earth Saints and Heroes


ew people change alone. We must choose friends and colleagues who will push us to what we thought we could not do. But we must select friends who will “catch” us, too, when we push ourselves too far and need to be supported. Wherever we are we must not be content to work alone. Only if we experience the possibility and the rewards of shared decision-making in our lives will we believe in the possibility of more just sharing of decisionmaking in our government and economic structures.

Books • Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet (2002) • You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear (2003) • Democracy’s Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life (2006) • Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen (2006) • Diet for a Hot Planet:The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It (2010) • EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think To Create the World We Want (2011) 17

Wangari Maathai By Maureen Fiedler SL


angari Maathai was born in rural Kenya in 1940 in a hut with mud walls and no electricity or running water. She was the daughter of peasants, the third of six children. Wangari knew Earth and loved it. In her memoir, Unbowed, she recalls the Kenya of her youth as lush and green, with fertile soil, clean water and abundant crops. Her formal education began at St. Cecilia’s Primary School where she converted to Catholicism. She later graduated from Loreto Girls’ High School in Kenya in 1959. An exemplary student, she was chosen in 1960 to be part of the “Kennedy Airlift.” This program, funded by the Kennedy family, financed about three hundred Kenyans to study at American universities. She was deeply attracted to the study of the natural world. With a scholarship to Mount St. Scholastica College, in Atchison, Kansas, she majored in biology, receiving her B.S. degree in 1964. Wangari earned a Master’s degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh in the mid-1960’s at a time of environmental agitation, when activists sought to clean up pollution from the steel mills. This was a pivotal moment for Wangari; she discovered the importance of environmental restoration. After returning to Africa, she became the first East African woman to receive a Ph.D. from the University College of Nairobi in 1971. Later, working as a professor, she focused on a major environmental crisis developing in Africa: deforestation. The desert was moving in where forests once stood. This led to massive soil runoff and water pollution. Villagers had to walk great distances to gather firewood. Livestock had little on which to graze. In a nation already poor, poverty deepened. So in 1977, remembering the lush green environment of her youth, Wangari Maathai founded the Greenbelt Movement. Her concept was simple: plant trees, lots of trees. Search the forests for the seeds of trees native to the area, and plant them. The women of Kenya responded to her call, many eventually establishing nurseries in their villages. The UN Voluntary Fund for Women paid women who planted trees that lived more than three months. In its first 20 years, this movement planted more than 15 million trees, spread to 30 African countries as well as the US, and provided income for 80,000 people.


For Wangari Maathai, reforestation was about saving Earth—and much more. It was about justice—the welfare of people as well as Earth. Planting trees created jobs —especially for the “least of these,” and it spawned a powerful grassroots organization to promote democracy and women’s rights. The Greenbelt Movement worked to improve the lives of Kenyan women with services such as family planning, nutrition programs and leadership training. But these intertwined issues did not make Maathai friends in high places, especially in the government of Kenya. She paid a steep price as she opposed projects at odds with her beliefs about justice and Earth. One such project was a 62-story skyscraper proposed in 1988 for Nairobi, the capitol of Kenya, at a cost of $200 million, roughly 7 percent of the annual budget of Kenya. She publicly opposed the building, saying the money should be used to alleviate poverty and hunger and to educate young people. For this and other actions, she incurred the wrath of the political leadership. During one demonstration, she was beaten unconscious by police. She was often harassed and thrown in jail. Yet she and her movement responded with nonviolent civil disobedience, in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. When asked how she kept from hating her enemies, Maathai responded, “The leaders don’t know what they are doing. They are so blinded by greed they genuinely believe they should control all resources. They don’t understand why we are willing to be abused, willing to put ourselves in danger.” In 2002, Maathai was elected to Kenya’s national assembly and was appointed assistant environmental minister. In 2004, she became the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. For the first time, the Nobel Committee linked environmental activism with the quest for world peace. Wangari died of cancer in 2011. To the very end, she lived her ideals: love of Earth, justice for the “least of these,” human rights and especially, women’s rights.

Earth Saints and Heroes

In Wangari’s Own Words T W

he earth was naked. For me the mission was to try to cover it up with green. e cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!


ou cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.

From her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2004: Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, In 1977, when we started the Green Belt Movement, I was partly responding to needs identified by rural women, namely, lack of firewood, clean drinking water, balanced diets, shelter and income. Throughout Africa, women are the primary caretakers, holding significant responsibility for tilling the land and feeding their families. As a result, they are often the first to become aware of environmental damage as resources become scarce, making them incapable of sustaining their families. The women we worked with recounted that unlike in the past, they were unable to meet their basic needs. This was due to the degradation of their immediate environment as well as the introduction of commercial farming, which replaced the growing of household food crops. But international trade controlled the price of the exports from these small-scale farmers and a reasonable and just income could not be guaranteed. I came to understand that when the environment is destroyed, plundered or mismanaged, we undermine our quality of life and that of future generations. Tree planting became a natural choice to address some of the initial basic needs identified by women... In this year’s prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has placed the critical issue of environment and its linkage to democracy and peace before the world. For their visionary action, I am profoundly grateful. Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come. Our work over the past 30 years has always appreciated and engaged these linkages. As I conclude I reflect on my childhood experience when I would visit a stream next to our home to fetch water for my mother. I would drink water straight from the stream. Playing among the arrowroot leaves I tried in vain to pick up the strands of frogs’ eggs, believing they were beads. But every time I put my little fingers under them they would break. Later, I saw thousands of tadpoles: black, energetic and wriggling through the clear water against the background of the brown earth. This is the world I inherited from my parents. Today, over 50 years later, the stream has dried up, women walk long distances for water, which is not always clean, and children will never know what they have lost. The challenge is to restore the home of the tadpoles and give back to our children a world of beauty and wonder.

Books by Wangari Maathai Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World (New York: Doubleday Image, 2010) The Challenge for Africa (New York: Pantheon, 2009; Vintage/Anchor, 2010)

Earth Saints and Heroes

Unbowed: A Memoir (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006) The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience (New York: Lantern Books, 2003, revised 2006)


Mary Oliver By Maureen McCormack SL


ary Oliver was born on September 10, 1935, in Maple Heights, Ohio, a semi-rural suburb of Cleveland. Her father was a social studies teacher and an athletics coach in the Cleveland public schools. She began writing poetry at the age of 14, and at 17 visited the home of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, in Austerlitz, New York. She and Norma, the poet’s sister, became friends, and Oliver more or less lived there for the next six or seven years, running around the 800 acres like a child, helping Norma, or at least being company for her and assisting with organizing the late poet’s papers. Mary Oliver attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College. She held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. In addition to such major awards as the Pulitzer and National Book Awards, Oliver has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also won the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize and other awards. She received honorary doctorates from The Art Institute of Boston (1998), from Dartmouth College (2007) and from Tufts University (2008). Oliver’s poetry is grounded in memories of Ohio and her adopted home of New England. She set most of her poetry in and around Provincetown, where she moved in the 1960s and where she is known as “The Bard of Provincetown.” The surrounding Cape Cod landscape has had a marked influence on her work. She said of Provincetown, “I fell in love with the town, that marvelous convergence of land and water; Mediterranean light; fishermen who made their living by hard and difficult work from frighteningly small boats; and, both residents and sometime visitors, the many artists and writers.” She is known for her clear and poignant observances of the natural world. Her creativity is stirred by nature, and Oliver, an avid walker, often pursues inspiration on foot. Her poems are filled with imagery from her daily walks near her home: shore birds, water snakes, the phases of the moon and humpback whales. In Long Life she says “[I] go off to my woods, my ponds, my sun-filled harbor, no more than a blue comma on the map of the world but, to me, the emblem of everything.” She commented in a rare interview, “When things are going well, the walk does 20

not get rapid or get anywhere. I finally just stop, and write. That’s a successful walk!” She once found herself walking in the woods with no pen. Later, she hid pencils in the trees so this would never happen to her again. She is a poet of wisdom and generosity whose vision allows us to look intimately at a world not of our making. Mary Oliver invites us into a relationship with the natural world as few others do. Through her poetry, I feel connected with all else that is. Oliver’s work turns towards nature for its inspiration and describes the sense of wonder it instills in her. It is possible to go through a day, or perhaps a life, immersed in the keen connection with the universe as seen through her eyes and never glimpse the world casually again. Start the day with her poem: Why I Wake Early (from book by the same title) Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who made the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding morning glories, and into the windows of, even, the miserable and the crotchety— best preacher that ever was, dear star, that just happens to be where you are in the universe to keep us from ever-darkness, to ease us with warm touching, to hold us in the great hands of light— good morning, good morning, good morning. Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness. Earth Saints and Heroes

More Poetry by Mary Oliver Toad I was walking by. He was sitting there. It was full morning, so the heat was heavy on his sand-colored head and his webbed feet. I squatted beside him, at the edge of the path. He didn’t move. I began to talk. I talked about summer, and about time. The pleasures of eating, the terrors of the night. About this cup we call a life. About happiness. And how good it feels, the heat of the sun between the shoulder blades. He looked neither up nor down, which didn’t necessarily mean he was either afraid or asleep. I felt his energy, stored under his tongue perhaps, and behind his bulging eyes. I talked about how the world seems to me, five feet tall, the blue sky all around my head. I said, I wondered how it seemed to him, down there, intimate with the dust. He might have been Buddha — did not move, blink, or frown, not a tear fell from those gold-rimmed eyes as the refined anguish of language passed over him.

Selected Quotes: “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” “Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled—to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.” “A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, but you do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the trees, or the laws which pertain to them ...” “A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing...” “Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.” “The world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” From “Wild Geese,” Dream Work. “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” “Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.” From Evidence: Poems

Earth Saints and Heroes

The Pinewoods

an excerpt

Just before dawn three deer came walking down the hill as if the moment were nothing different from eternity — as lightly as that they nibbled the leaves, they drank from the pond, their pretty mouths sucking the loose silver, their heavy eyes shining. Listen, I did not really see them. I came later, and saw their tracks On the empty sand. But I don’t believe Only to the edge Of what my eyes actually see in the kindness of the morning, do you?

From Why I Wake Early, 2004

A frequently quoted passage from a Mary Oliver poem is: Tell me, what is it you plan to do With your one wild and precious life? The poem from which it is taken is “The Summer Day” from House of Light. Google it. You may have your own favorites. The internet is full of samples, as well as brief videos of Mary Oliver reading her own poetry.


Jane Goodall By Carole Eschen SL


ane Goodall was born in London on April 3, 1934. As a child she was fascinated by and filled with curiosity about animals. When she could not figure out how an egg could get out of a chicken, she crawled into the chicken coop to quietly observe. While she was there for several hours, her parents were frantically searching for her. They could not be angry with her, however, when she emerged full of excitement and joy in her discoveries. This curiosity has stayed with her all her life. While still a young woman, Jane traveled to Kenya in 1957 to visit the farm of a friend. Africa intrigued her and her friend persuaded her to phone Louis Leakey to discuss her passion about animals. Louis Leakey was a noted Kenyan archeologist and paleontologist. Unknown to Jane, he was looking for a chimpanzee researcher who might shed light on the behavior of early hominids. He invited Jane to Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania to act as his secretary. Impressed with the qualities of the young woman, Leakey sent Jane to study primate behavior and anatomy with experts in London. In 1960 she began her storied career studying chimpanzees in their natural environment. Because it was not deemed proper for a young woman to be on her own in the wilds, Jane’s mother, always her supporter, accompanied her to Africa. The chimps were elusive and it took a great deal of patience to win their trust. Using native guides, Goodall tracked the chimps through dense forest and was among the first to be approached and touched by a chimp named David Greybeard. Although Jane had no undergraduate degrees, her work was recognized as important and in 1962 she became only the eighth person to study for a Ph.D. without first obtaining a lower degree. She completed her Ph.D. in 1965. Contrary to the custom of using numbers to identify animals, Jane gave her chimps names and noted distinct personalities and individual differences. This was only the beginning of the unusual approaches that led her to new and remarkable insights into animal behavior. One such insight was that humans are not the only species that make and use tools. Jane observed chimps breaking off twigs, stripping off the leaves, and using this newly-shaped tool to fish out and eat termites from nearby termite mounds. Goodall also changed the view of chimps as peaceful vegetarians. She documented that chimpanzees can and do hunt smaller colobus monkeys even though vegetation does make up the greater part of the chimp diet. Jane showed that chimpanzees have a complex social structure, are loving parents and have attachment to 22

their peers. These were new discoveries that emphasized the similarities between human and chimpanzee behavior. Jane Goodall worked with a wildlife photographer, Hugo van Lawick, who was helping record her work for National Geographic. In 1964 they were married and soon had a child, affectionately named Grub. Though Goodall and van Lawick eventually divorced, Grub was raised in Tanzania with many chimpanzees for companions. Her second marriage was to Derek Bryceson, a member of the Tanzanian parliament. He was director of his country’s national parks and was able to protect Jane’s research project until he died of cancer in 1980. Over the past 45 years, Jane has trained native Tanzanians to continue the research work at Gombe as she turned more of her attention to championing the cause of the chimpanzee through worldwide lectures and speeches. Today she spends as much as 300 days a year traveling to promote this cause. She has raised awareness about the conditions in zoos and research labs and has helped to create better living environments for chimps. Goodall has always considered it important to involve youth in conservation and love for Mother Earth. In 1991, Roots and Shoots began when local Tanzanian teenagers met with Jane on her porch. Today it is a global conservation program with over 10,000 groups in 100 countries. She has written children’s books to foster an early love of nature and an understanding of conservation. Two are The Chimpanzee Family Book and With Love. Many awards have been bestowed on Goodall over the years, recognizing her work as primatologist, conservationist, and humanitarian. Currently Jane serves as a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, a UN peace messenger, and president of Advocates for Animals. The short biographical addition to a video about Jane states, “Jane Goodall hasn’t found the missing link, but she comes closer than nearly everyone else.” The primatologist says that the only real difference between humans and chimpanzees is our sophisticated language. She urges us to start using it to change the world. Earth Saints and Heroes

Jane’s Reasons for Hope in Her Own Words


t is easy to be overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness as we look around the world. We are losing species at a terrible rate, the balance of nature is disturbed, and we are destroying our beautiful planet. We have fear about water supplies, where future energy will come from—and most recently the developed world has been mired in an economic crisis. But in spite of all this I do have hope. And my hope is based on four factors. The Human Brain Firstly, we have at last begun to understand and face up to the problems that threaten us and the survival of life on Earth as we know it. Surely we can use our problem-solving abilities, our brains, to find ways to live in harmony with nature. Many companies have begun “greening” their operations, and millions of people worldwide are beginning to realize that each of us has a responsibility to the environment and our descendants. Everywhere I go, I see people making wiser choices, and more responsible ones. The Indomitable Human Spirit My second reason for hope lies in the indomitable nature of the human spirit. There are so many people who have dreamed seemingly unattainable dreams and, because they never gave up, achieved their goals against all the odds, or blazed a path along which others could follow. The recent 2008 presidential election in the US is one example. As I travel around the world I meet so many incredible and amazing human beings. They inspire me. They inspire those around them. The Resilience of Nature My third reason for hope is the incredible resilience of nature. I have visited Nagasaki, site of the second atomic

bomb that ended World War II. Scientists had predicted that nothing could grow there for at least 30 years. But, amazingly, greenery grew very quickly. One sapling actually managed to survive the bombing, and today it is a large tree, with great cracks and fissures, all black inside; but that tree still produces leaves. I carry one of those leaves with me as a powerful symbol of hope. I have seen such renewals time and again, including animal species brought back from the brink of extinction. The Determination of Young People My final reason for hope lies in the tremendous energy, enthusiasm and commitment of young people around the world. As they find out about the environmental and social problems that are now part of their heritage, they want to right the wrongs. Of course they do — they have a vested interest in this, for it will be their world tomorrow. They will be moving into leadership positions, into the workforce, becoming parents themselves. Young people, when informed and empowered, when they realize that what they do truly makes a difference, can indeed change the world. We should never underestimate the power of determined young people. I meet many young people with shining eyes who want to tell Dr. Jane what they’ve been doing, how they are making a difference in their communities. Whether it’s something simple like recycling or collecting trash, something that requires a lot of effort, like restoring a wetland or a prairie, or whether it’s raising money for the local dog shelter, they are a continual source of inspiration. My greatest reason for hope is the spirit and determination of young people, once they know what the problems are and have the tools to take action.

RESOURCES Books by Jane Goodall 1996

My Life with the Chimpanzees (a book for children)

Jane Goodall on the Web

2000 Reasons for Hope: A Spiritual Journey 2009 Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink 2010 Jane Goodall: 50 Years at Gombe Earth Saints and Heroes

Jane Goodall’s Homepage

Jane’s Global Youth Network

The Jane Goodall Archives - Articles from 1963 - 2010 Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia contains a comprehensive list of resources on Jane Goodall—books, children’s books, and films. 23

Wendell Berry By Maurice Lange


eroding topsoil in the United States, global economics and environmental destruction.

He was born in 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky. His writing is grounded in the notion that one’s work ought to be rooted in and responsive to one’s place.

When recently asked if an internet community is an authentic community Wendell Berry responded “All I ask is that you remember you are using metaphor … a real community, an Aldo Leopold-type of community, is the people and the place and everything else that’s in it, and they’re there together, and they’re interdependent.”

endell Berry is a Kentucky farmer, philosopher and writer. The author of more than forty works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Berry has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors.

From 1964 to 1977, Berry taught creative writing at the University of Kentucky and during his early years in Lexington he came to know author Thomas Merton. In 1965, Berry moved to a farm he had purchased near Port Royal, Kentucky. This farm, called “Lane’s Landing,” still grows pasture grass and trees, allows sheep to graze, and serves as a place of writing for Berry. He has written about his early experiences on the land and about his decision to return to it in essays like “The Long-Legged House” and “A Native Hill.” In the 1970s and early 80s, Berry edited and wrote for the Rodale Press. He has written at least 25 books of poems, 16 volumes of essays, and 11 novels and short-story collections. Berry, a lifelong Baptist, has criticized Christian organizations for failing to challenge cultural complacency about environmental degradation and has shown a willingness to criticize what he perceives as the arrogance of some Christians. Wendell Berry’s nonfiction serves as an extended conversation about the life he values. According to Berry, the good life includes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life. Threats to this good life, according to Berry include: industrial farming and the industrialization of life, ignorance, hubris, greed, violence against others and against the natural world, the


The concept of “Solving for Pattern,” coined by Berry in his essay of the same title, is the process of finding solutions that solve multiple problems, while minimizing the creation of new problems. Though Berry’s use of the phrase was in direct reference to agriculture, it has since come to enjoy broader use throughout the design community. A good example of “solving for pattern” is the idea of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). This alternative solves the problems of small family farmers going out of business, the land being “developed” and families not knowing where their food is from. A local CSA farm “solves for pattern” by allowing farmers to follow their vocation of farming, by keeping the land from being paved over and by intimately connecting people to their source of food. I was first attracted to the thoughts of Wendell Berry by his work: The Unsettling of America. It argues that today’s agribusiness takes farming out of its cultural context and is destructive to the lives of farmers and to our culture as a whole. Reading this while interning at Genesis Farm in New Jersey, one of the first CSA’s in the nation, I arrived at a level of understanding I had not previously known. I reflected on my own upbringing on small family ranches in Texas and to now be part of a biodynamic community farm at one with its “cultural context” ... my ideas of food, farming, community and the preciousness of land would never be the same. Thank you to Wendell Berry for calling us to a sense of place.

Earth Saints and Heroes

In the Words of Wendell Berry S


o, friends, every day do something that won’t compute ... Give your approval to all you cannot understand ...Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years ... Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts .... Practice resurrection.

ating with the fullest pleasure—pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance—is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living in a mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.



o unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.

e’re members of each other—all of us—everything. The difference is not whether you are or not, but whether you know you are or not. Because we’re all under each other’s influence. We all are affected by one another’s lives and decisions. And there is no escape from this membership.

o live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.


he care of Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.


dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable to feed me. If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade.


he passive American consumer, sitting down to a meal of pre-prepared food, confronts inert, anonymous substances that have been processed, dyed, breaded, sauced, gravied, ground, pulped, strained, blended, prettified, and sanitized beyond resemblance to any part of any creature that ever lived. The products of nature and agriculture have been made, to all appearances, the products of industry. Both eater and eaten are thus in exile from biological reality.


nd the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home. “February 2, 1968” -- a poem by Wendell Berry In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter, war spreading, families dying, the world in danger, I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

Earth Saints and Heroes

The Peace of Wild Things When despair grows in me and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting for their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. Wendell Berry


Dorothy Stang Angel of the Amazon By Martha Alderson CoL


hat would you like your last words on Earth to be? Who of us could think clearly enough in the face of death to sum up our most deeply held convictions to offer to the witnesses of our last moments? Dorothy “Dot” Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, carried her Bible, which she claimed as her only weapon. She quoted the beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor … Blessed are the peacemakers …” Hired gunmen approached her, identified her, and fired fatal bullets into her face and then into her back after she fell. This is how she died, at the vigorous age of 73, in rural Brazil where she had worked for nearly 40 years. But her life was what she would want to be remembered for. Having joined the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur fresh out of high school when she was 17, Dot followed her wish to be of service by teaching in Catholic schools in Illinois and in Arizona. Her dream, though, was to be a missionary. In 1966 that wish was granted when she and her friend, Joan Krimm, also a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, began their assignment in northeastern Brazil. Soon Sisters Joan and Dorothy realized their real work would be not with the wealthy ranch owners they first visited but with the peasants who worked for them. They saw their struggles of long walks to work, difficult living conditions, and that the poor were treated with such little respect. That situation was not acceptable to the sisters. They decided to live and work with the poor and to put their efforts into acquiring better living and working conditions. Dot Stang could see that the great rain forests of Brazil were being devastated by rich land owners who saw only the profits gained by raising cattle on burned forest land and cutting ancient trees for logging and did not see the profit to ecological health provided by the forests. The relationship of the treatment of the peasants and the treatment of the land was very clear to Dot. If the forests didn’t survive, neither would any civilization—not just in Brazil. If the peasants were not allowed to farm in sustainable ways and to have the land they had been granted, there would be no justice anywhere. And thus began Dorothy Stang’s real work, her tremendous contribution to the rights and dignity of all—and, sadly, the path to her death. 26

Sixty percent of the Amazon rain forest is in Brazil. About one third of all the species in the world—plants and animals—live in the Brazilian rain forest. The Amazon rain forest is often called the lungs of the world, providing oxygen through photosynthesis. To land developers, though, lungs don’t seem as important as purses. In late summer of 2004, 2,500 acres of forest in the Anapú area were destroyed. Another fact of this area is that the work of the land is done mostly by poor farmers. Landowners’ concerns seemed to be more for production than for providing for the wellbeing of the workers. These truths were evident to Dot Stang. She wore a t-shirt on which were the Portuguese words, “A Morte da floresta é o fim da nossa vida.” (The death of the forest is the end of our life.) Sustainable farming was familiar to Dot from her parents. Her father, Henry, a chemical engineer, was an organic farmer. The family farmed vegetables, canning what they needed and selling the rest. She appreciated the hard work and the harvest. Also she was formed by her religious order, whose mission statement includes that “The hunger for justice leads us ‘to spread the Gospel and to take our stand with the poor of the earth ... as they struggle for adequate means for human life and dignity.’” Her deep spirituality that reverenced the holy in all led to a strong conviction of connectedness. Her brother, David Stang, said, “To her the forest was alive, earthy, sacred.” He added, “I realized that all nature was holy to Dorothy.” The forest is essential to life. The peasant workers are essential to the land. The landowners need to understand how their attitudes affect all of that. Sister Dorothy proceeded to put pressure on the government to support poor farmers. In the early 1970s, Earth Saints and Heroes

the government built the Trans-Amazon Highway across northern Brazil. There was an invitation to claim land along the highway. Many peasant farmers moved into those areas and claimed land. The state of Pará is heavily forested, and small farming villages arose. Dot followed the peasants and worked with them in the village of Anapú to set up co-ops, build schools, worship together, and teach about sustainable farming. Although the land was declared unproductive and given to the farmers, it was rich in cedar and mahogany, which is quite valuable to corporate landowners after all. Promises, however, proved to be far from reality. Deeds to the land were not forthcoming. Dot argued that the land belonged to those to whom it was given; landowners who saw the earnings from logging and burning argued that without proof it belonged to them. When it was clear that in most cases the family farmers were not to be given the deeds to their lands, Dot went to the government offices where she persistently requested to be seen. Sometimes she camped outside the offices for days waiting for an official who “was out for a while.” Eventually there were sustainable projects in Anapú. It was encouraging if not quite the progress that was needed. For her efforts on behalf of the farmers and the land, Dot was made an honorary citizen by the state of Pará. And she was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Brazilian Bar Association in 2004. Dot lived, worked, and prayed with the rural farmers. She walked the rough highway [only a portion of it had been paved, in spite of the big plans of the government] to advise, plant, and try to persuade those she saw as invaders that the land legitimately belonged to the farmers. To them she was a hero, in fact called the Angel of the Amazon. Astounding as it seems, to the landowners she

was considered a terrorist! She stood up to the authorities in city offices and in the village. Mercenaries were hired by landowners to “protect” their interests. They stormed villages and burned them. They intimidated the farmers, causing many to go into hiding. Yet the powerful loggers and cattlemen as well as their hired guns feared the feisty nun who spoke for the peasants. She continued to go into the villages and said openly she would build a community center, would support the farmers’ claims to the land. On February 11, 2005, Dot Stang was walking in the rain to a community meeting. Two gunmen she had met the day before stepped in front of her. They threatened her. She pulled out her Bible as her defense and began quoting the beatitudes. One gunman gave a signal, and the other shot her from only about seven feet away. The loss of the voice of Sister Dorothy Stang is a tragedy beyond description. The Propagation of the Faith has named her a modern day martyr. An outcry from Brazil, from her sisters, from her family, and from many friends has called attention to the life and death of Dorothy Stang. Several books, articles, DVDs, and more recently an opera commemorate her life and work. She was honored posthumously in 2008 with the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights. The horrific way she died must be seen in relation to the bravery with which she lived, not just at the moment of her death but in her life of dedication to equality and justice for land and its inhabitants. At 73, Dot could be considered to have had a full life. She would surely have continued her work until she was no longer able to do it, however, being holy to the poor and deeply annoying to the wealthy. Her life was cut short, but what a life it was!

RESOURCES DVDs: They Killed Sister Dorothy. Produced by Just Media Production (, © 2008. Also Discussion Guide for the DVD prepared by The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The Student, The Nun, & The Amazon. Sam Clements. (, © 2005. Web Article: Robertson, Jennifer. “Angel of the Amazon,, October 2005 Opera: Mack, Evan. Angel of the Amazon, 2010. Produced by Encompass New Opera Theatre. Earth Saints and Heroes

Website: Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Ohio Province, Books: LeBreton, Binka. The Greatest Gift: The Courageous Life and Martyrdom of Sister Dorothy Stang. New York: Doubleday, 2008. Murphy, Roseanne. Martyr of the Amazon: The Life of Sister Dorothy Stang. New York: Orbis Books, 2007. 27

Thich Nhat Hanh By Maureen McCormack SL


nitially, one would not think of Thich Nhat Hanh as an Earth Saint. He is one of the most respected Zen masters in the world today, a poet, and peace and human rights activist. He was born in central Vietnam in 1926 and joined the monastery at the age of 16. The Vietnam War confronted the monasteries with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life or to help the villagers suffering under bombings and other devastation of the war. Nhat Hanh chose to do both through a movement he called “engaged Buddhism.” His life has been dedicated to the work of inner transformation. In Saigon in the early 60s, he founded the School of Youth Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives with the help of 10,000 student volunteers. The organization based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. After visiting the US and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, Thich Nhat Hanh was banned from returning to Vietnam. On subsequent travels to the US, he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials. He may have changed the course of US history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped to galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks. Mary Luke Tobin SL was also present at those talks. In this piece, I choose to focus on Thich Nhat Hanh’s connection with Earth and the cosmos. What a wonderful complement to his activism and to his work of inner transformation. In his book, Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living, he says: “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is … to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” Consider this linking of planting lettuce and human relationships: “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less 28

sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.” Thich Nhat Hanh’s heart is as large as the cosmos. His whole being is deeply connected to the universe as is evident from these next passages: “Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth ... This is the real message of love.” From Teachings on Love “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the Earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” “Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clouds, everything.” From Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living “The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.” “Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with Earth Saints and Heroes

the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot — are all sacred.” From The Miracle of Mindfulness Some years ago, I had the privilege of making a Buddhist retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh in the Colorado mountains. Three other Sisters of Loretto also made that retreat: Sisters Mary Luke Tobin, Rose Annette Liddell and Anna Koop. The four of us shared a room with bunk beds. We talked late into the night about what we learned each day. I still remember some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings from that retreat. He loved saying “Present moment, wonderful moment” as we began practicing mindfulness. Before we began a meal, he would have us look appreciably at the array of colors on our plate, notice the smells, and then eat mindfully, aware of the textures and the taste. He encouraged us to pause before answering the phone in order to be present to the person on the other end. Nhat Hanh led us on walking meditations. He told us in his gentle voice to “walk as though lotus blossoms spring beneath our feet.” I didn’t even know what a lotus blossom looked like, but I liked the sound of it. In 1973, the Vietnamese government again denied Nhat Hanh permission to return to Vietnam. In 1982, he founded Plum Village, a Buddhist community in exile in the South of France, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in Vietnam and throughout the Third World. He travels internationally to give retreats and talks. He was given permission to make his first return trip to Vietnam in 2005 and has returned regularly since. He was awarded the Courage of Conscience award in 1991. At the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament in 1982, at a forum of religious leaders that resounded with moral pronouncements, Thich Nhat Hanh entered quietly and moved to the podium with no prepared speech in his hand. “I haven’t much to say,” he said, “but on my way here I wrote a poem.” From the pocket of his brown monk’s coat he took a crumpled paper and read aloud, “Please Call Me By My True Names” — and then he sat down. Nhat Hanh has published more than 100 books, including more than 40 in English. He continues to be active in the peace movement, promoting non-violent solutions to conflict. He has also been featured in many films, including “The Power of Forgiveness” showcased at the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival. Learn more about his life and work on the internet. Earth Saints and Heroes

Please Call Me By My True Names Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow— even today I am still arriving. Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,  to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone. I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive. I am a mayfly metamorphosing  on the surface of the river. And I am the bird  that swoops down to swallow the mayfly. I am a frog swimming happily  in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake  that silently feeds itself on the frog. I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda. I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving. My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans. Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one. Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion.


Thomas Merton By Mary Luke Tobin SL


uring my first meeting with Thomas Merton—about nine years before his death—I sensed immediately his love of the earth. This brilliant man, with an M.A. from Columbia University, who taught at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York, and who could have had his pick of numerous high paying jobs, chose to enter the Trappist Monastery of the Abbey of Gethsemani near Louisville, Kentucky. For Merton, contemplation was the root of his vision. On his visit to our community’s Motherhouse at Loretto, Kentucky, as we walked up the steps of our administration building, Merton, looking around the grounds, exclaimed, “What magnificent trees! Don’t let anyone ever persuade you to cut them down!” Those spontaneous words came from one who, I was to learn from future conversations and from his writings, truly reverenced creation. Merton saw “the woods” as the ideal ambience in which to be with God. He urged an appreciation of the natural beauties of the Kentucky forests as a way to learn God’s presence. “That’s how I pray. Walk in the garden, or better, in the woods,” Merton recommended to those who sought his advice on prayer. He himself cherished such times of meeting and exploring the “allness” of God in nature as an authentic experience of prayer. “No words ever written,” he once said, “can compare with the sound of the wind in the pine trees.” The sound of the wind and the other sights and sounds of the Kentucky woods became greatly familiar to him in the last eight years of his life. In response to Merton’s need for more solitude than he knew in the monastery proper, he was given permission to live in a small hermitage on the monastic property. Time after time in his poetry, Merton caught both the awesome beauty of creation as well as the uniqueness of the tiniest element in nature. A dark-eyed yellow daisy is a “gentle sun” and a “golden heaven” (Song for Nobody). One can visit Grace’s House, where “no blade of grass is not counted/No blade of grass forgotten on this hill,” and where attention is paid to “a rabbit/And two birds, bathing in the stream.”


The unity Merton felt with other parts of creation is epitomized in O Sweet Irrational Worship, in which he identifies himself with the wind, a tree, earth itself, a lake of blue air. The poem concludes: “Out of my grass heart/ Rises the bobwhite./Out of my nameless weeds/His foolish worship.” Merton, a keen observer and admirer of nature, was strongly concerned about ecology decades before most others were. A 1968 essay entitled The Wild Places, written not long before his sudden death, serves as an example. Here, Merton values the ecological contributions of Rachel Carson, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold. Further, Merton underlines the connection between preparation for war and environmental destruction. He wrote, “Much of the stupendous ecological damage that has been done in the last fifty years is completely irreversible. Industry and the military, especially in America, are firmly set on policies that make further damage inevitable…The ecological conscience is also essentially a peace-making conscience.” Woods, Shore, Desert, a journal written during a 1968 trip to the West coast, combines the artist’s eye for pictorial composition with the earth-lover’s preoccupation with beauty: “The redwood lands appear. Even from the air you can see that the trees are huge. And from the air too, you can see where the hillsides have been slashed into, ravaged, sacked, stripped, eroded with no hope of regrowth of these marvelous trees.” This article by Mary Luke Tobin SL first appeared in EarthLight Magazine.

Earth Saints and Heroes

In Merton’s Own Words W

hat a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, intelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows! Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.


he whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another.


am earth, earth My heart’s love Bursts with hay and flowers. I am a lake of blue air In which my own appointed place Field and valley Stand reflected


ne of the most important discoveries of our time could be called the ecological conscience, which is centered in an awareness of the human’s true place as a dependent member of the biotic community. The tragedy that has been revealed in the ecological shambles created by business and war is a tragedy of ambivalence, aggression, and fear cloaked in virtuous ideas and justified by pseudoChristian clichés. Or rather a tragedy of pseudo-creativity deeply impregnated with hatred, megalomania, and the need for domination. Its psychological root doubtless lies in the profound dehumanization and alienation of modern Western humanity, which has gradually come to mistake the artificial value of inert objects and abstractions for the power of life itself.


ear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves.


hat is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what God takes most seriously. At any rate the Lord plays in the garden of creation, and if we could let go live in the woods out of necessity. I get out of the bed in of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning the middle of the night because it is of it all, we might be able to hear God’s imperative that I hear the silence of the call and follow in the mysterious, cosmic night, alone, and, with my face on the dance. We do not have to go very far floor, say psalms, alone, in the silence to catch echoes of that game and of of the night...the silence of the forest is that dancing. When we are alone on a my bride and the sweet dark warmth starlit night; when by chance we see the of the whole world is my love and migrating birds in autumn descending out of the heart of that dark warmth on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; comes the secret that is heard only when we see children in a moment when in silence, but it is the root of all the they are really children; when we know secrets that are whispered by all the love in our own hearts; or when, like the lovers in their beds all over the world. Japanese poet Basho we hear an old Merton’s hermitage in the woods frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary he truth that many people never splash—at such times the awakening, understand, until it is too late, is the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves because smaller and more insignificant things begin to evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance. torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.



he purpose of education is to show us how to define ourselves authentically and spontaneously in relation to our world—not to impose a prefabricated definition of the world, still less an arbitrary definition of ourselves as individuals.


e must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition.

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or the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. 31

Thomas Berry A Voice for Earth By Gail Worcelo sgm


homas Berry was born November 9, 1914, in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he spent his early childhood and where he returned when he was 80. It was there that he died peacefully on June 1, 2009.

He was named William Nathan after his father and was the third of thirteen children. He entered the Passionist Order in high school to train to become a priest and, upon ordination to the priesthood, took the name Thomas. He took this name because he admired the writings of Thomas Aquinas who was a Dominican priest of the 13th century considered to be one of the most influential theologians of the Catholic Church. From his academic beginning as a cultural historian, Thomas Berry evolved to become a historian of Earth and the Universe. He saw himself not as a theologian but as a geologian. Thomas was a man of towering intellect, gentle countenance and sharp wit. He had a great sense of humor and would often throw his head back in peals of laughter after sizing up certain incongruous situations. He was not afraid to laugh at himself as well. Love for Earth From boyhood Thomas had a love for Earth. He tells the story of riding his bicycle and pedaling with shoeless feet one rainy day on the country roads of North Carolina. He rested on his bicycle at a stop sign and while sitting there, a car full of people drove up next to him. They were crammed inside with the windows closed. He explains how they were all bundled up and protected from the rain, the smells, the feel of the landscape, and were in his view totally cut off from the natural world. He spoke about this incident later in his life and referred to this closing off to the Earth Community as ‘autism.’ He would say, “My generation is an autistic generation, unable to relate to the sacred community of life.” What was the reason for this inability of ours as humans to relate emotionally to the Earth Community? Thomas declared that it was because we had lost our connection to our story or cosmology, the narrative that orients and gives us meaning and direction. In his book, The Dream of the Earth, Thomas wrote, “It is all a question of story. We are in trouble right now


because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The Old Story — the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it — is not functioning properly and we have not learned the New Story.” When Thomas spoke about the New Story, he was referring to the recent scientific account of a 13.7 billionyear unfolding universe out of which we emerge and of which we are a part. In such a vast, irreversible unfolding drama, what is our role as humans? Thomas probed into this question and said that although we are one species among others who have emerged out of this long trajectory of time, we have a special role. What is that role? One of reflection and celebration! We are storytellers and caretakers of an amazing planet. As beings who can reflect and make decisions that can affect the children of all species way into the future, we have a particular responsibility for the continuation of life on Earth. Thomas was fond of saying, “We cannot make a blade of grass, but we can determine whether or not there will be a blade of grass. We have reached a juncture where we are realizing that we will determine which life forms survive and which ones become extinct.” Cosmos on the Go Understanding ourselves within this New Story of cosmogenesis, (a cosmos on the go, ever unfolding!) we begin to see that there is an irreversibility to the process. Irreversibility means that once a species is gone, it is gone forever. Neither we nor Earth can bring it back because the conditions for anything emerging are one-time events, which Thomas called, “Moments of Grace.”

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Such moments in the universe story include: the big bang, the supernova explosion that gave birth to Earth and our solar system, photosynthesis and the emergence of life out of early seas onto land. Thomas Berry urged us to understand this irreversible dimension to the universe/planet of which we are a part. He often said that when we destroy or injure species— water, animals, plants, or the biosphere— we suffer a deep sadness and soul loss. The Earth community provides us not only with food, shelter, clothing, and energy, but also with beauty which fuels our art, poetry, music, dance, and song. Thomas would say, “If we lived on the moon, our art, poetry, music, dance and song would reflect the lunar landscape. But we live on Earth, a privileged planet of such grand diversity and beauty that our entire emotional and imaginative lives depend on the entire community of existence.

RESOURCES Books by Thomas Berry: The Dream of the Earth The Great Work Evening Thoughts The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth The Universe Story (co-authored with Brian Swimme.) Websites: DVDs: The Awakening Universe The Great Story Journey of the Universe

The Meadow Across the Creek When Thomas Berry was an eleven-year old, he tells the now legendary story that gave shape to his entire life. It happened like this — Thomas’s family had just moved to a new part of town and on an afternoon in May, Thomas went out to explore the neighborhood. There was a creek behind his house which he crossed over, jumping from rock to rock until he got to the other side. He climbed up a hill and came into a beautiful meadow covered with white lilies and the song of birds. The sun was shining brightly on that warm day and the whole meadow became alive to him. Thomas dedicated the whole of his life to that meadow. The meadow became for Thomas a symbol of the entire Earth Community. He would say, “What preserves the meadow and all the life it contains is good, what destroys the meadow is not good. My life orientation is that simple.” In reality, though, it was not all that simple. For Thomas, a good education would be one that seeks to learn from the meadow and how it maintains a constant balance through the proper interrelationship of things, one to another. A Earth Saints and Heroes

good jurisprudence (legal system) would protect the meadow by understanding that all beings have rights; the right to be, the right to habitat and the right to fulfill their role in the great community of life. A good religion would celebrate the meadow through ritual and song and regard the meadow as a holy manifestation of God. A good economics would keep a balance by taking out and putting back as well as enhancing rather than continuously extracting without return. Thomas Berry challenged his listeners to enter into the “Meadow Experience” of their own lives. He would ask, “Can you recall a time in your own life when the natural world revealed itself to you and you had an experience of deep connection?” He would go on, “This is important to access. Why? Because our future destiny rests decisively on our capacity for intimacy in our human-Earth relations.”

One of the most challenging statements of Thomas Berry for those of us at the beginning of the 21st century is this— “Every generation has a Great Work to do. The Great Work of our time is to move from a period of human devastation of Earth to a new era where we will be present to the planet in a mutually enhancing manner.” Thomas Berry dedicated his book, The Great Work to all the children and wrote this poem.

To All the Children To the children who swim beneath the waves of the sea, to those who live in the soils of the Earth, to the children of the flowers in the meadow and the trees of the forest, to all those children who roam the land and the winged ones who fly with the winds, to the human children too, that all children may go into the future as a Single, Sacred Community. —Thomas Berry


Rachel Carson By Mary Ann Coyle SL


am going to start this short essay on my favorite Earth Hero by posing a few words for you to consider: writer, scientist, marine biologist, naturalist, hysterical fanatic, revolutionary. Now think back to your first acquaintance with Rachel Carson—maybe it was in fourth or fifth grade, maybe even earlier. Do some of the words ring a bell in your head? Are there any there you might wonder about? Are there any that inspire you to think of ways you might change the world by writing? Some years ago, I gave a short talk about Rachel and tried to situate myself in her shoes when she awoke one morning in 1962, opened up The New York Times, and found this startling headline—”Silent Spring Is Now a Noisy Summer.” It was a shocker for Rachel to think that her book, first featured in serial form in The New Yorker magazine, would have caused such a stir in the national media. Growing up in a small farming community just a little northeast of Pittsburgh in the lower Allegheny Valley, Rachel was a born naturalist. The youngest of three siblings, she was happiest when reading and/or wandering with her mother along the banks of the Allegheny River observing the flowers, the wildlife, and the plants. She would sit quietly for long periods in the woods listening to the chirps of the birds, watching them take flight, and then wondering about their home habitats. Rachel, from early childhood days, imagined herself as a writer. When ten-years-old she sent an essay to the St. Nicholas magazine and, to her delight, got it published. Starting out as an English major at the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College), she took a course in zoology from an inspiring teacher and discovered, in this science, the subject for her writing. Scholarships allowed Rachel to study at Woods Hole Biological Laboratory and at Johns Hopkins University. Hers was a solitary venture into what was at that time a male-dominated field. Armed with an MA in Zoology in 1932, she taught briefly until, in 1936, she got a job as a part-time writer of radio scripts on oceans with the Federal Bureau of Fisheries in Baltimore, Maryland. While this job occupied the day hours, her evenings were spent writing freelance articles for The Baltimore Sun. In this way she could describe her observation of the pollution of the oyster beds of the Chesapeake Bay caused by industrial runoff. She put in print ways that changes in oyster seeding and dredging practices, as well as political regulation of the effluents pouring into the bay, might


effect positive change in the Bay’s environment. Rachel signed these essays simply R. L. Carson with the hope that readers might assume she was male and thus take her science seriously. Even though Rachel always thought of herself as a scientific outsider and one who loved her career in scientific writing, she did have an advantage in writing for the public rather than a more narrow scientific audience. Her thesis in Silent Spring was that we were subjecting ourselves to slow poisoning by the misuse of chemical pesticides. DDT had been synthesized and called the best scientific discovery of the age. Paul Müller in 1939 discovered its insecticidal properties and in 1948 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for his discovery. After Silent Spring was published, those in the chemical industry as well as those with strong agricultural bias did all in their power to discredit Carson’s research. Carson always said it was her intention to disturb and disrupt indiscriminate spraying of pesticides and to do this with dignity and deliberation. Carson died in 1964 just two years after Silent Spring raised such a furor. Even though Carson knew that one book would not totally alter the corporate-profit agenda, an environmental movement grew from her challenge. This movement was led by a public eager for knowledge about what we were doing in the name of economic advancement at the expense of the wellbeing of all life on Earth. Six years after Rachel Carson’s death the first Earth Day was celebrated and Congress passed the National Environmental Policy and set up the EPA. While my concentration in this essay has been to contrast Carson as writer, scientist, and naturalist, and to dwell primarily on Silent Spring, I would be remiss not to mention her other books: Under the Sea World (1941), The Sea Around Us (1951), The Edge of the Sea (1955). The Sea Around Us was awarded the National Book Award in 1952. A final book, The Sense of Wonder, was published posthumously in 1965. Earth Saints and Heroes

In Rachel Carson’s Own Words Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life. Rachel Carson had an opportunity to speak to a thousand women journalists about her writing and said the following:


believe it is important for women to realize that the world of today threatens to destroy much of that beauty that has immense power to bring us a healing release from tension. Women have intuitive understanding of such things. They want for their children not only physical health but mental and spiritual health as well. I bring these things to your attention because I think your awareness of them will help, whether you are practicing journalists, or teachers, or librarians, or housewives, and mothers.

birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be. — The Sea Around Us


t is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself. —The Sea Around Us


hat is the value of preserving and strenghening this sense of awe and wonder, this recogmition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence? Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper? — The Sense of Wonder


here was a strange stillness. The birds, for example—where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed. The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh. — Silent Spring


f I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength. — The Sense of Wonder


t is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility. — The Sense of Wonder

o stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore

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f a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. — The Sense of Wonder


onder and humility are wholesome emotions and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.


hose who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.


he current vogue for poisons has failed utterly to take into account these most fundamental considerations. As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life; a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways. These extraordinary capacities of life have been ignored by the practitioners of chemical control who have brought to their task no high-minded orientation, no humility before the vast forces with which they tamper. — Silent Spring 35

Aldo Leopold By Maurice Lange


onsidered by many as the father of wildlife management and of the United States’ wilderness system, Aldo Leopold was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. How did Nature shape him as a child? Aldo Leopold was born January 17, 1883, in Burlington, Iowa. Young Aldo reveled in being outside, documenting bird sightings, hunting, and woodworking. His sister Mary would later say of her older brother “He was very much an outdoorsman, even in his extreme youth. He was always out climbing around the bluffs, or going down to the river, or going across the river into the woods.” This keen young observer of the natural world would go on to earn a graduate degree in Forestry at Yale University. Aldo Leopold was hired by the US Forest Service and sent to Arizona and New Mexico where he worked from 1909— 1924. Leopold wrote the first comprehensive plan for the Grand Canyon and proposed the Gila Wilderness Area. At first Leopold was assigned to the killing of predatory animals such as bears, wolves and mountain lions as ranchers deplored the loss of their livestock. Leopold later came to see the value in the predator-prey relationship as necessary for a healthy ecology. His conversion was especially poignant one day while wolf-hunting. After shooting a wolf at quite a distance, he went to examine the animal. What he saw would forever change him: “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes —something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

he and his beloved wife and children put into practice many of his theories regarding the land and its creatures. He helped landowners rehabilitate fields and streams which suffered from erosion brought on by overplanting and intensive grazing. Leopold was passionate about expanding and protecting wilderness areas and thus founded The Wilderness Society. He regarded the Society as “one of the focal points of a new attitude—an intelligent humility toward man’s place in nature.” Aldo Leopold’s most enduring legacy is his “A Sand County Almanac.” Published in 1949 shortly after his death and notable for its simple directness, this work contained ‘The Land Ethic’ which defined a new relationship between people and nature and set the stage for the modern conservation movement. Leopold understood that ethics directs individuals to cooperate with each other for the mutual benefit of all. One of his philosophical achievements was the idea that this ‘community’ should be enlarged to include non-human elements such as soils, waters, plants, and animals, “or collectively: the land.”

Leopold’s appreciation for animals and their contributions to the good of the whole grew. He developed an ecological ethic that replaced an earlier wilderness ethic that stressed the need for human dominance.

This recognition, according to Leopold, implies that individuals play an important role in protecting and preserving the health of this expanded definition of a community.

Aldo Leopold was transferred to Madison, Wisconsin, where he continued working for the Forest Service and eventually taught at the University of Wisconsin. By the 1930s he was the nation’s foremost authority on wildlife conservation. He purchased 80 rundown acres and there

“A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of land.”


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Central to Leopold’s philosophy is the assertion to “quit thinking about decent land use as solely an economic problem.” While recognizing the influence economics has on decisions, Leopold understood that ultimately our economic wellbeing could not be separated from the wellbeing of our environment. Therefore, he believed it was critical that people have a close personal connection to the land. “We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.” Leopold died April 21, 1948, while assisting neighbors with a nearby grass-fire that threatened their lands. His family were all very passionate about conserving the natural world and his five children began the Aldo Leopold Foundation in 1982. (“Green Fire” is an excellent documentary of the life and work of Aldo Leopold and is currently available.)

In the Words of Aldo Leopold


thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.


e abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.


he last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: “What good is it?”

onservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.


hat land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.


nly the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.

ike winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television. Earth Saints and Heroes

The Land Ethic


armony with the land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of the land. We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. The extension of ethics to this element in human environment is, if I read the evidence correctly, an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity. The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land. This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for an obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helterskelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these ‘resources,’ but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state. In short, a land ethic changes the role of homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin A VISION OF FIERY LOVE By Bernadette Bostwick sgm “The day will come when after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”


ierre Teilhard de Chardin was an obscure Jesuit priest who wrote the above words many years ago, but they are as potent today as they were in the 1940’s. Teilhard de Chardin was a mystic and visionary, a paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher, who spent most of his adult life trying to integrate his Christian religious experience with natural science. Teilhard believed that the Divine Heart beating with the fiery energy of love and compassion was at the center of the cosmos and the world. It is not surprising then that the deepest desire for Teilhard as a scientist and mystic was to probe into the mystery of life and its origin and to discover what was present at “the heart of matter.” Since much has been written about Teilhard’s early life, I will use the year 1899 as a starting point. Teilhard entered the Jesuit novitiate in France at Aix-enProvence in 1899. His training as a Jesuit provided him with both a spiritual base and a program of intellectual study that gave him the opportunity to pursue his devotion to scientific investigation of Earth as well as to the cultivation of a life of prayer. It was his intention at the completion of his studies to begin a career of teaching and research in the disciplines of geology and paleontology. Teilhard was headed in that direction when, like many of his countrymen, he found himself conscripted for military service during the First World War. As a stretcher-bearer during some of the most horrific battles of that conflict, Teilhard found his personal faith, like so many others who witness the tragedy of combat, severely challenged. After the war, Teilhard returned to both teaching and research. In 1923 he was invited to join an archeological expedition in China. During the next 12 years he took part in nine more such expeditions. His reputation as a scientist and paleontologist grew and his association with the discovery in 1929 of the fossil remains of what has come to be known as “The Peking Man” made headlines around the world. 38

Teilhard’s findings and scientific studies had already convinced him of the validity of evolution as a fundamental basis for understanding the meaning of human existence, and as his research in the natural sciences intensified he started to see incredibly exciting possibilities for humankind. What were the possibilities that Teilhard began to see for humanity? Well, to understand these possibilities, I have to introduce you to his three interrelated concepts: Cosmogenesis, Noosphere, and Omega Point. Let’s look at the first concept, cosmogenesis. Teilhard saw the universe as an irreversible sequence of unfolding, just like a good story. The Universe, for Teilhard held together from beginning to end, was interconnected from within and from without and was going somewhere. It had a goal. Teilhard called this unfolding story, cosmogenesis. His vision of cosmogenesis was mystical as well as scientific and deeply Christian in origin and orientation. For Teilhard, cosmogenesis pointed to a universe with both a physical dimension and a spiritual one, an inside and an outside. Teilhard often refrerred to the “within” of things. Think of cosmogenesis as the universe unfolding both at the spiritual and at the physical level. Do you recall the famous toy that most of us played with as children, the slinky? Remember how it could stretch and unfold? As the outside was pulled forward so was the inside. This image of the slinky can help you understand what Teilhard was pointing to in terms of the Universe. For Teilhard, the Universe had a spiritual as well as a physical dimension, it moved from lesser to greater complexity both physically and spiritually, and it was held together in perfect communion with its diversity honored at every level.

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“The most telling and profound way of describing the evolution of the universe would undoubtedly be to trace the evolution of love.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Cosmogenesis for Teilhard revealed immense possibilities for us as a human community. The reason for this, as you can probably see, is that in a universe that continually unfolds there is the constant pull to become more: more caring, more creative, more loving.

Teilhard wrote: “It is not our heads or our bodies which we must bring together, but our hearts… as we come together humanity will find its heart, without which the ultimate wholeness of the power of unification can never be achieved.”

This leads to the second concept of Teilhard’s that is linked to cosmogenesis. This concept is called: the “noosphere.”

This brings us to the third concept in the trinity of Teilhard’s thought. This third concept, called the “Omega Point,” would link with “cosmogenesis” and the “noosphere” to form the map for our future unfolding.

In an unfolding cosmos, human consciousness would not remain static but would unfold and evolve as well. Teilhard believed that human consciousness, as it evolved would form a sphere around the planet, (just like the hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere etc...). He called this new, invisible sphere the “noosphere” or “thinking layer of Earth.” Teilhard arrived at this concept of the noosphere long before the creation of micro-computers, internet and social media networks. Teilhard described the noosphere as a “planetary thinking network,” an interlinked system of consciousness and information, a global network of selfawareness and planetary communication. At the time of his writing, computers were the size of a city block, and the internet was more an element of Star Trek science fiction than reality. The planetary, interconnected consciousness that Teilhard envisioned over 50 years ago is indeed coming to pass. Today, even as you are reading these words, the planet is linking and connecting in ways we can hardly keep up with through IPads, IPods, IPhones, Text messaging etc… However, for Teilhard this convergence which he predicted would occur through a global network of information, was not a convergence of merely minds and bodies, science and technology — but most importantly a convergence of the heart. Teilhard felt that the heart was the most important aspect of the noosphere and without this fiery heart of love there could be no balance and wholeness on Earth or in the cosmos.

Earth Saints and Heroes

For Teilhard, the “Omega Point” was the ultimate goal of cosmogenesis, which was the convergence of the entire universe, humanity and all of reality in the heart of Christ. This convergence in LOVE was the whole purpose of the universe and the goal of the entire evolutionary process for Teilhard. In his view, the heart of Christ was a fire with the capacity to penetrate all things, the ultimate force of attraction drawing the Universe FORWARD into its ultimate future. What is that ultimate future? It is our highest possibility as humans, it is our capacity to evolve into the deepest levels of care, love, compassion and planetary unity. The three concepts of Cosmogenesis, Noosphere and Omega Point form a map for our future potential and they are what excited Teilhard because they reveal immense possibilities for the cosmos through our human capabilities and collective creativity. It can be said that Teilhard’s prayer was to be united with the very heart of an evolving cosmos whose goal was convergence in love. When Teilhard died, there was a picture on his desk of the Radiant Heart of Christ, personally inscribed with the words “My Litany” on the front/back which read in part: Sacred Heart Motor of evolution Heart of Matter World Zest Heart of the World’s Heart Focus of ultimate and Universal energy Center of the Cosmic Sphere of Cosmogenesis Heart of Jesus, Heart of Evolution, unite me to yourself. 39

John Muir By Nancy Wittwer SL


pril 21, 1838 is a date to remember. It marks the birth date of John Muir who is recognized today as the “Father of our National Park System.” Born in Scotland, John and his family emigrated to the United States when he was 11 years old and settled on a farm in Wisconsin where John and his brothers cleared the land and began a life of hard work on the farm. John, high-spirited and somewhat rebellious, always managed to sneak off to the surrounding woods to find solitude, to delight in nature, and to observe the plants and wildlife in his new surroundings. His father, a strict disciplinarian and a deeply religious man, required John to memorize the Bible and attend church with the family, but it was in the woods that John heard the finest sermons. In nature he experienced the divine. During his years on the farm John received no formal schooling but was a voracious reader and taught himself mathematics, literature, and philosophy. His greatest lessons, however, were learned from nature. When asked to teach a Sunday school class, he offered his students lessons in botany instead of the Bible as a way of understanding creation. John enjoyed tinkering with gadgets and once created an alarm clock that would dump the sleeper from bed onto the floor. At the age of 22 he left home to exhibit his inventions at the State Fair in Madison, Wisconsin and distinguished himself as an inventor. His next stop was the University of Wisconsin where he pursued studies in botany before following his brother to Canada to avoid the draft. The Civil War was at its peak and tents for wounded soldiers were set up on campus. John was a pacifist and the sight of these crippled men only deepened his anti-war convictions. He called war the “most infernal of all civilized calamities.” After the war John returned to the United States and began to pursue his long-cherished dream of walking 1,000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico and from there traveling to Cuba and South America to study plants grown in a warmer climate. This grand botanical expedition was delayed while he recovered from a factory accident that blinded him. He did finally make it to Florida but once again illness, this time from malaria, delayed his dream of travelling to South America. During his walk to Florida John kept a detailed journal with sketches of new plants he encountered. On the flyleaf of the journal was inscribed his new address: “John Muir, Earth-Planet, Universe.” This was the first of countless journals documenting wilderness journeys on almost every continent. Of all his travels it was California that laid claim to his affection and became John’s true home with Yosemite Valley as the spiritual


center—“this glorious valley might well be called a church.” From here the mountain climber, always accompanied by books and journals, scaled the peaks of the High Sierras and fell more deeply in love with wildness. It was here too that John discovered his life mission as preserver of natural beauty and leading advocate of wilderness. When many places John loved were threatened by those who viewed nature as a resource to be exploited for financial gain he intensified his writing. It was in his many letters, essays, and books that he communicated a passion for nature and a realization that humans were part of the natural world rather than the center of it. By destroying nature we were destroying ourselves. Jeanne Carr, John’s dear friend and confidant, played a big role in encouraging John’s activism. She and her husband introduced John to intellectuals and power brokers of the day — as well as to his wife-to-be. A major break came when John received word that a person of influence was requesting to spend four days alone with him in the Sierra mountains. That person was President Teddy Roosevelt and this camping trip with Muir fueled Roosevelt’s own ambition to set aside public land for national parks. Even before Roosevelt, President Grover Cleveland, greatly influenced by Muir’s early essays and fiery magazine articles, declared 21 million acres of woodland as federal forest reserves—a move strongly opposed by industrial leaders. Among Muir’s many achievements he co-founded the Sierra Club that helped establish a number of national parks after his death and continues to keep alive the legacy of John Muir by working to preserve and protect the wilderness. John Muir, as relevant today as he was over 100 years ago, had a transformational effect on who we are as a people. Earth Saints and Heroes

In John Muir’s Own Words When we tug at a single thing in nature we find it attached to the rest of the world.


hen I was a boy in Scotland I was fond of everything that was wild ... I loved to wander in the fields to hear the birds sing, and along the shore to gaze and wonder at the shells and seaweeds, eels and crabs in the pools when the tide was low; and best of all to watch the waves in awful storms thundering on the black headlands and craggy ruins of old Dunbar Castle.


he battle we have fought and are still fighting for the forests is part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong, and we cannot expect to see the end of it... So we must count on watching and striving for these trees, and should always be glad to find anything so surely good and noble to strive for.


eep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean ...


ome to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the log cock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.


e all flow from one fountain—Soul. All are expressions of one love. God does not appear and flow out, only from narrow chinks and round bored wells here and there in favored races and places, but He flows in grand undivided currents, shoreless and boundless over creeds and forms and all kinds of civilizations and peoples and beasts, saturating all and fountainizing all.


hen we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.


very particle of rock or water or air has God by its side leading it the way it should go. The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness; In God’s wildness is the hope of the world.


ny fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could they would still be destroyed—chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificient backbones ... Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but God cannot save them from fools—only Uncle Sam can do that.


housands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.

Books by John Muir



• The Story of My Boyhood and Youth • A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf • My First Summer in the Sierra • The Yosemite • Travels in Alaska • Letters to a Friend • Our National Parks


• historical/muir/ • + Biography of John Muir + John Muir & Theodore Roosevelt in Yosemite + John Muir and Yosemite + John Muir Stories + John Muir: The Wild Gospel of Nature + John Muir in the New World

The complete text of these books and more is available at: writings/#books

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• • • library/ • quotes/authors/j/john_muir. html •


Henry David Thoreau By Molly Kammien


enry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817, and he proved his academic talents from a young age. He attended Harvard University, but after graduating decided he did not want to pursue the traditional professions of university graduates. Instead, he and his brother, John, opened a school where they took the children for nature walks in addition to their regular class work. Thoreau left the school, however, when John died suddenly. In the following years, he worked in multiple careers as a pencilmaker with his family, a land surveyor, and eventually as a writer. During his time as a schoolteacher, Henry met Ralph Waldo Emerson, who would become his life-long mentor and friend. Emerson introduced Thoreau to transcendentalism, a developing philosophy of the 1800s that focused on the beauty and goodness of man and nature outside of organized religion and government. Transcendentalism would become a driving factor underlying Thoreau’s later works and the springboard off which his own philosophy on nature was formed. He began writing after Emerson encouraged him to keep a journal, and before long he was publishing work throughout the Northeast. In 1844, Henry and his friend accidentally set fire at Walden Woods, which burned 300 acres of forest. As a result, in 1845, he announced his decision to move to Walden Pond into a house he built on Emerson’s property. At age 27, he was determined to pursue a simple lifestyle and explore his relationship with Nature and the Divine. Thoreau lived in the forest for the next two years, two months, and two days. In his book, Walden, or Life in the Woods, which was published in 1854, he related this desire stating, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” He received criticism from some of his contemporaries for his seeming escape from societal obligations, but this did not deter Thoreau’s mission to live as one with his environment. While there, he received many visitors, including Emerson and other strangers passing through.


During his stay at Walden, Henry was fined for his overdue poll taxes. When he refused to pay because of his disagreement with the government’s involvement in slavery and the Mexican-American war, he was put in jail for one night. As a result, he wrote Civil Disobedience, an essay on the struggle of conscience versus government demands of injustice. This work put him in the forefront of the abolitionist movement and later became a central text for peace leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. After leaving Walden, Thoreau continued to journal daily about his long walks and natural specimens he collected. He continued to learn about zoology, botany, taxonomy, and natural history by reading and lecturing around the Northeast. Henry traveled to Canada, the Maine woods, and Cape Cod, among other destinations, to continue his research and writing about nature. He continued to work as a land surveyor and forest conservationist until his premature death at age 44 from tuberculosis. Thoreau holds many titles in U.S. history—writer, philosopher, and abolitionist—but he is probably most well known as one of the “founding fathers of environmentalism.” His spiritual and intellectual relationship with the world around him still serves as a great reminder of our own intimate connection to the natural world and our social responsibility to protect our environment. As part of his legacy, the Walden Woods Project and Thoreau Institute continue their work in preserving the land that inspired Thoreau. The Project focuses on conservation, scholarship, education, program activities, and advocacy/awareness. Earth Saints and Heroes

In the Words of Henry David Thoreau I

went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.


he hen-hawk and the pine are friends … what we call wilderness is a civilization other than our own.


s a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.


ou must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.


am a happy camper so I guess I’m doing something right. Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.


ach town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of 500 or 1,000 acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation.


s you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.


man shall perhaps rush by and trample down plants high as his head, and cannot be said to know that they exist, though he may have cut many tons of them, littered his stables with them, and fed them to his cattle for years. Yet, if he ever favorably attends to them, he may be overcome by their beauty.


n society you will not find health, but in nature … Society is always diseased, and the best is the most so.”

here is a patent office at the seat of government of the universe, whose managers are so much interested in the dispersion of seeds as anybody at Washington can be, and their operations are infinitely more extensive and regular.


e could not help contrasting the equanimity of Nature with the bustle and impatience of man. His words and actions presume always a crisis near at hand, but she is forever silent and unpretending.


wish to speak a word for nature, for absolute Freedom and Wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and Culture merely civil, — to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.

Earth Saints and Heroes


ature has taken more care than the fondest parents for the education and refinement of her children.


man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. e must look a long time before we can see.

eaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.

Sources and Resources: The Walden Woods Project: The Thoreau Society: The Thoreau Reader: Read Walden on line at : work-1428/Walden-Henry-David-Thoreau/contents You can visit these sights for selected biographies and texts by Thoreau.


Julian of Norwich By Karen Cassidy CoL

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well….the day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw God in all things and all things in God.


ady Julian is named after the church in Norwich, England, where she lived during the later part of her life. Her real name is unknown. Bubonic plague (the black death) swept through Norwich three times during her life. There was great poverty, flooding, and disease. She must have known great hardship with the loss of relatives, family, and friends. She most likely married around age 15 but probably lost her husband and children to the illnesses prevalent in England at the time. Julian spent much of her life as an anchorite, that is, as a vowed religious living by herself in a small room attached to a parish church. She had three windows in her anchorhold, one opened to the altar, one to the room where the lay sisters lived, and one to the public lane. Beyond this, little is actually known about Lady Julian. What is known about her is her remarkable book, The Revelations of Divine Love. This book describes a series of visions that opened Julian to the depths of God’s unconditional love. Written in lucid prose, it is combined with images attributed to her as a medieval mystic. From her anchorhold Julian established herself as an independent, female, religious authority. In one part of her vision, Julian portrays Christ in a nurturing and motherly way. His love is described as “homelike” and her word choice reflects the soothing and comforting aspects of motherhood. She takes the universal God and places God in an individual setting making this divine being accessible to all, especially women. She is deliberate in her word choice. She uses the word “humankind” instead of “mankind” in order to give focus to the whole of humanity rather than merely the male sector. She was the first woman to write such a book in English. One of the visions often written about is the one she had for the land. In this vision she understood God as holding all creation in divine care. She saw a hazelnut in the palm of her hand and came to understand that all creation


“continues and always shall, because God knows it, loves it, keeps it … and all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Most medieval paintings show God with the frail glass orb of the entire cosmos like a ball to be played with in one’s hand.) But Julian has a natural object in her own humble hand. Her hand, like God’s, is holding the cosmos. She teaches us how small, yet how loved, is God’s creation. Many see the hazelnut as representative of the womb. In another passage Julian makes specific reference to the womb and to Christ: “Our natural, kindly mother, our gracious mother laid the groundwork within the maiden’s womb.” In shape, the hazelnut certainly calls to mind a womb. It is a seed and represents the creation of life and the ability of life to reproduce and endure. Julian references that all things have life through the love of God and all of humanity has life through the love of a mother. In her vision Julian feared the hazelnut might get lost because of its small size. The hazelnut might also be seen as a metaphor for women. In the Middle Ages, women were small, insignificant, and in a constant state of being consumed and lost in the predominantly patriarchal society. Julian uses the word “nothing” to show the marginalized and reduced status of women. The consolation that she receives from the vision is that the hazelnut will last forever because God loves it. Earth Saints and Heroes

In Julian’s Own Words Be a gardener. Dig a ditch, toil and sweat, and turn the earth upside down and seek the deepness and water the plants in time. Continue this labor and make sweet floods to run   and noble and abundant fruits to spring. Take this food and drink and carry it to God as your true worship.


e also showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand. It was as round as a ball, as it seemed to me.  I looked at it with the eyes of my understanding and thought, “What can this be?”  My question was answered in general terms in this fashion: “It is everything that is made.”  I marveled at how this could be, for it seemed to me that it might suddenly fall into nothingness, it was so small.  An answer for this was given to my understanding: “It lasts, and ever shall last, because God loves it.  And in this fashion all things have their being by the grace of God....  It is necessary for us to know the littleness of creatures in order to reduce them to nothingness in our judgment, so that we may love and have the uncreated God.  The reason we are not fully at ease in heart and soul is because we seek rest within them, and pay no attention to our God, who is Almighty, All-wise, All-good and the only real rest.”  —Revelations of Divine Love


et nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes away except God.

s truly as God is our Father, so truly God is our Mother. It is I: the Power and the Goodness of the Fatherhood. It is I: the Wisdom of the Motherhood. It is I: the Light and the Grace that is all blessed Love. It is I: the Trinity. It is I: the Unity. I am the supreme goodness of all manner of things. I am what causes thee to love. I am what causes thee to yearn. It is I: the endless fulfilling of all true desires. Earth Saints and Heroes


ecause of the great, infinite love which God has for all humankind, he makes no distinction in love between the blessed soul of Christ and the lowliest of the souls that are to be saved. We should highly rejoice that God dwells in our soul and still more highly should we rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is made to be God’s dwelling place, and the dwelling place of our soul is God who was never made.


ll shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.


his fair lovely word “mother” is so sweet and so kind in itself, that it cannot truly be said of anyone nor to anyone except of Him and to Him who is true Mother of life and of all. To the quality of motherhood belongs natural love, wisdom, and knowledge — and this is God….The kind, loving mother who is aware and knows the need of her child protects the child most tenderly as the nature and state of motherhood wills. And as the child increases in age, she changes her method but not her love. And when the child is increased further in age, she permits it to be chastised to break down vices and to cause the child to accept virtues and graces. This nurturing of the child, with all that is fair and good, our Lord does in the mothers by whom it is done. Thus He is our Mother in our human nature by the action of grace in the lower part, out of love for the higher part.

—Revelations of Divine Love

The fruit and the purpose of prayer is to be one with and like God in all things.

The entire Revelations of Divine Love can be read at: 45

St. Francis of Assisi By Beth Blissman CoL

Not to hurt our humble brethren [the animals] is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission—to be of service to them whenever they require it. - St. Francis of Assisi


ach year on October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, participants at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City — and many other Anglican and Roman Catholic churches nationwide — bring along their animal companions to church for a blessing. People arrive at church with dogs, cats, rabbits and more to get blessings in honor of St. Francis and his dedication to animals and the environment. People who do not or cannot have animals oftentimes celebrate the day by volunteering at an animal shelter or donating money to an animal rights organization. One of the most famous and best-loved saints in the Roman Catholic tradition, St. Francis (born Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone) lived from 1182 until 1226 in or near Assisi in Italy. He was the son of Pietro di Bernardone, a wealthy cloth merchant, and his wife Pica, about whom little is known except that she was originally from France. As a youth, Francis led a privileged life, wearing clothes made of the best materials and enjoying opportunities for education, music and pleasure. He did raise questions at an early age, noticing that he had so much while some residents had so little. Francis also gained experience as a soldier, and he was a prisoner of war for a year. It may have been this time period that led him to a more reflective, religious life. Or it may have been that Francis was open to seeing the Divine in many places. In his mid-twenties he undertook a pilgrimage to Rome and returned to Assisi following spiritual visions and mystical experiences. He decided to devote his life to the Christian faith. Renouncing the privilege of his wealthy family, he stripped naked in the central piazza of Assisi and strode out of town toward a new life of uncertainty, poverty, and ecstatic appreciation of all God’s creation. His evangelical preaching inspired others to follow him, and before long he had 11 companions. Francis chose never to be ordained a priest, so he and his brothers lived very simply in an abandoned leper colony. In 1209, he composed a simple rule, or “Primitive Rule,” for his 46

followers (called friars), which came from verses in the bible. The rule was “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps.” That same year Francis and his first followers went to Rome to ask permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious order. The Pope initially had doubts, yet eventually agreed. Francis of Assisi became the founder of the Franciscan Order of Preaching Friars. In 1211 Francis received Clare of Assisi into his fold and established the Order of Poor Ladies, later called the Poor Clares. This was an order for women, and he gave them a religious habit, or dress, similar to his own. For those who could not leave their homes, he later formed the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance. This was a lay fraternity whose members neither withdrew from the world nor took religious vows. Instead, they carried out the principles of Franciscan life. Before long this order grew beyond Italy. St. Francis of Assisi is remembered for his generosity to the poor, his willingness to minister to the lepers and his love for animals and nature. It was said that when Francis chose to travel and to preach the gospel, his first audience was a very large flock of birds in a tree on the way to the nearest village In 1224 St. Francis composed the Canticle of the Sun, in which he praised Brother Sun and Sister Moon. According to tradition, the first time it was sung in its entirety was by Francis and Brothers Angelo and Leo, two of his original companions, on Francis’ deathbed. St Francis died at Portiuncula, Italy, on October 3, 1226. Pope Gregory IX pronounced St Francis a saint in 1228.

Earth Saints and Heroes

Interesting Facts about St. Francis of Assisi St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the environment. October 4th commemorates the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi and is also World Animal Day. The Peace Prayer of St. Francis
 Lord, make me an instrument of your peace Where there is hatred, let me sow love, 
 Where there is injury, pardon, 
 Where there is doubt, faith,
 Where there is despair, hope Where there is darkness, light,
 And where there is sadness, joy.
 O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
 to be consoled as to console;
 to be understood as to understand;
 to be loved as to love;
 for it is in giving that we receive, 
 it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
 and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 No serious scholar today, Franciscan or otherwise, would place the Peace Prayer among the authentic writings of St. Francis. In recent decades it has become evident that the prayer originated during the early years of the 1900s. You can find more information here: http://www. Francis of Assisi may not have written the words of the prayer attributed to him, but he certainly lived them. His love for all creatures set a clear example for us as seekers of spiritual wisdom and peace.

At Greccio near Assisi, around 1220, Francis celebrated Christmas by setting up the first known three-dimensional presepio or crèche (Nativity Scene). His nativity imagery reflected the scene in traditional paintings. He used real animals to create a living scene so that the worshipers could contemplate the birth of the child Jesus in a direct way, making use of all of the senses. According to Thomas of Celano, a biographer of Francis, it was beautiful in its simplicity with the manger acting as the altar for the Christmas Mass. As St. Francis grew in wisdom and in age, and spent more and more time in nature, the more convinced he became that God’s love embraces all creatures equally. For example, Francis had a keen sense that all creatures—not just humans—must be included in the celebration of Christmas. Francis’ biographers tell us that he wanted the emperor to ask all citizens to scatter grain along the roads on Christmas Day so that the birds and other animals would have plenty to eat. Walls, too, should be rubbed with food, Francis said, and the beasts in the stable should receive a bounteous meal on Christmas Day. He believed that all creatures had a right to participate in the celebration of Christmas, the celebration of the Incarnation of God through Jesus Christ More and more, Francis harbored within himself a profound instinct that the saving plan of God, as revealed by the child-Savior born in Bethlehem, was to touch every part of the created world. Given this vision, it was natural for Francis to take literally Jesus’ command in Mark’s Gospel to “proclaim the gospel to every creature”—to birds and fish, rabbits and wolves, as well as to humans.

Resources Films: • The Flowers of St. Francis, 1950 • Francis of Assisi, 1961 • Francis of Assisi, 1966 • Brother Sun, Sister Moon, 1972 • St. Francis, a 2002 film • Clare and Francis, a 2007 film Websites: From the Franciscan Archives: patriarcha/ Seasonal feature on St. Francis: Features/default.aspx?id=16

Earth Saints and Heroes

Books: • Francis of Assisi in the Sources and Writings, by Robert Rusconi, 2008 • Saint Francis of Assisi, by Thomas of Celano Franciscan Publications, 1988. • Francis of Assisi — The Message in His Writings, by Thaddee Matura, Franciscan Institute Publications 1997 • Saint Francis of Assisi, by John R. H. Moorman, 1987. • First Encounter with Francis of Assisi, by Damien Vorreux, 1979. • St. Francis of Assisi, by Raoul Manselli, Franciscan Institute Publications, 1985. • Saint Francis of Assisi, 1923, a book by G. K. Chesterton


Hildegard of Bingen By Karen Cassidy CoL


obert Ellsberg in his book All Saints begins his reflection on Hildegard in a rather amazing way. He writes: St. Hildegard was by any standard one of the remarkable figures of her age: abbess and foundress of a Benedictine religious community; author and theologian; prophet and preacher; musician and composer; poet and artist; doctor and pharmacist. Increasingly Hildegard is honored not only as a woman of history but as a visionary whose ecological and holistic spirituality speaks prophetically to our time. And so, let me tell you more of this remarkable woman. Born in 1098, she was the tenth child of a wealthy, noble, German family. As the tenth child, Hildegard was destined to serve God through the church. When three years old, she began to have visions and finally at eight her family entrusted her to an anchoress named Jutta who lived in a cottage near the Benedictine Abbey at Duisenberg. Here she received her religious education and remained until Jutta’s death in 1136. Hildegard followed Jutta as the new abbess of the community and in 1148 decided to move the convent to Rupertsberg near the Rhine River and close to Bingen. The convent was free of an attachment to a male house and the women were able to govern themselves and to follow the Benedictine rule as they saw it applied to their way of life. The Rupertsberg convent grew to as many as 50 women in a relatively short time. It was here that Hildegard completed her first work, Scivias. This piece, recording many of her visions, is described as scientific, artistic and theological. It includes pictures, cosmic imagery, a play and music with analytic reflections on the cosmos. The mandalas pictured in her book are ways of passing on the cosmic vision. The word mandala, or map of the cosmos, was developed in the East as well as the medieval West to “liberate the consciousness” and return us to a primeval consciousness that is essentially one of unity. For Hildegard, her mandalas became a primary way that the human and the universe could be brought together again, in a kind of integration and wholeness. Hildegard saw the notion of ‘Viriditas,’ or Greenness, penetrating every aspect of life. This ‘Greenness’ was the expression of Divine power on Earth. “The Word of God regulates the movements of the Sun, the Moon and the 48

stars. The Word of God gives the light that shines from the heavenly bodies. It makes the wind blow, the rivers run and the rain fall. It makes trees burst into blossom, and the crops bring forth the harvest.” Hildegard believed this amazing phenomenon called life could be created only by God and that all life carries the Divine energy. She describes the music she composed as a means of “recapturing the original joy and beauty of Paradise.” “I have exalted humankind;” she cites the Creator as saying. “Humankind alone is called to co-create.” She warns humanity, “All nature is at the disposal of humankind. We are to work with it. Without it we cannot survive.” To Hildegard, medicine and nature were not separate bodies of knowledge. One of her books, Physica, combines botanical and biological observations, along with pharmaceutical advice, on stones, trees, plants and herbs. In Causae et Curae, a book on health, there are hundreds of chapters on physiology, the pharmacopeia of plants, medieval pharmaceutical lore, symptoms, causes and cures of physical ailments. She saw the human body and the human psyche as creation-in-miniature; as we are in the cosmos and the cosmos is in us. “Now God has built the human form into the world structure, indeed even into the cosmos,” she declares, “just as an artist would use a particular pattern in her work.” This law of the universe Hildegard declares in the following manner: “God has arranged all things in the world in consideration of everything else.” Hildegard is rich in expressing the intrinsic holiness of being. Although she died in 1179, we proclaim her a remarkable woman, very relevant in current times. She was a first in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as Sybil of the Rhine, wrote of Earth spirituality in ways that still influence us today.

Earth Saints and Heroes

In Hildegard’s Own Words HOLY PERSONS draw to themselves all that is earthly.


OW HERE is the image of the power of God.

I am the one whose praise echoes on high. I adorn all the earth. I am the breeze that nurtures all things green. I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits. I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams. I am the rain coming from the dew that caused the grasses to laugh with the joy of life. I am the yearning for good....


HE EARTH is at the same time mother, she is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human. She is mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all. The earth of humankind contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power. It is in so many ways fruitful. All creation comes from it. Yet it forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God’s son.



RAYER IS nothing but the inhaling and exhaling of the one breath of the universe. E SHALL AWAKEN from our dullness and rise vigorously toward justice.  If we fall in love with creation deeper and deeper we will respond to its endangerment with passion.   ND IT IS WRITTEN: “The Spirit of the Lord fills the Earth.”  No creature, whether visible or invisible, lacks a spiritual life.  And those creatures that human beings do not perceive seek their understanding until humans do perceive them.  For it is from the power of the seed that the buds sprout.  And it is from the buds that the fruit of the tree springs forth.  The clouds too have their course to run.  The moon and the stars flame in fire.  The trees shoot forth buds because of the power in their seeds.  Water has a delicacy and lightness of motion like the wind.  This is why it springs up from the Earth and pours itself into running brooks.  Even the Earth has moisture and mist.”

OLY SPIRIT,    making life alive,     moving in all things,     root of all created being,     cleansing the cosmos     of every impurity,     effacing guilt,     anointing wounds.     You are lustrous     and praiseworthy life,     You waken and re-awaken     everything     that is.



MOST NOBLE GREENNESS, rooted in the sun,     shining forth in streaming splendor     upon the wheel of Earth.     You are encircled     by the very arms     of Divine mysteries.     You are radiant like the red of dawn!     You glow like the incandescence of the sun!

Earth Saints and Heroes


, THE FIERY LIFE of the divine substance, blaze in the beauty of the fields, shine in the waters, and burn in the sun, moon, and stars. And as the all-sustaining invisible force of the aerial wind, I bring all things to life.... I am also Reason, having the wind of the sounding Word by which all things were created, and I breathe in them all, so that none may die, because I am Life.


OD’S WORD is in all creation No creature has meaning without the Word of God. God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible. The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word flashes out in every creature. This is how the spirit is in the flesh the Word is indivisible from God.


HE HIGH, THE LOW, all of creation, God gives humankind to use. If this privilege is misused, God’s justice permits creation to punish humanity. 49

About the authors: Martha Alderson

, a Loretto co-member since 1984, is currently on Loretto’s Coordinating Team as Comembership Coordinator. She is responsible for computer layout of the community newsletter, Interchange. Previously she was a free-lance writer and editor having 23 years experience in marketing and editorial work with McGraw-Hill Book Company. She is grateful for what she has learned from Loretto friends, especially through the Loretto Women’s Network and the Loretto Earth Network. She is devoted to her dog, Ming Li, and to her two cats, Eco and Wonder.

Beth Blissman

 was raised in the foothills of the Allegheny mountains of Western Pennsylvania. Beth, a Loretto co-member, currently serves as director of the Oberlin College Bonner Center for Service & Learning. She enjoys working closely with faculty members, students, community partners and alumni who are interested in connecting academic work with appropriate community-based needs. One of Beth’s goals is to create the greenest, most ecologically-sustainable civic engagement center possible, and she
currently collaborates with several students bent on modeling office-based carbon neutrality.
 Her academic 
background is interdisciplinary, and includes an undergraduate degree in architectural engineering and a doctorate in religion and social change. Beth’s research interests include the intersection of religious traditions with ecosocial transformation, especially as that intersection applies to emerging ethical frameworks among women religious and in higher 
education. She enjoys organic gardening and serving on several non-profit boards and committees, especially through the New Agrarian Center, the Loretto Earth Network, Green Mountain Monastery
and the Oberlin Project. Beth resides in Oberlin, OH.

Bernadette Bostwick

, one of the founders of Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont, grew up in New Jersey. An artist, she currently is working to open ancient images of the Christian Tradition through Iconography: Mary of the Cosmos is one such image that has been published in several volumes. Bernadette calls her artistry into play in many practical ways. She uses it not only in planning the monastery’s organic gardens but also in feeding the community and its many guests from these gardens. This supports the commitment of the monastery to serve local, organic, vegetarian food as a visible sign of its mission of healing Earth. Bernadette is actively dedicated to the unfolding of Green Mountain Monastery and the deepening of Christ consciousness within herself and with others. Bernadette, with Gail Worcelo and Thomas Berry, established Green Mountain Monastery to carry forward a mission of healing Earth and its life systems.

Karen Cassidy

is a co-member of the Sisters of Loretto and a member of the Loretto Earth Network Coordinating Committee. She is a nurse practitioner serving on a palliative care team at Jewish Hospital and Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, KY. She is married and has three children: Ned, who teaches at an all-girls school, Mercy Academy in Louisville; Katie, who is a nurse and an Ironman tri-athlete; and Joseph who works at the Marriott and is studying to be an EMT and firefighter. She also has two dogs, Desi and Lucy. Karen has long been attracted to the early medieval mystics and contemplative prayer.

Mary Ann Coyle

has been both a teacher and administrator mainly in Loretto-sponsored institutions in the Denver area. Her primary field of study was chemistry and she earned her PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She taught at Loretto Heights College and served as chair of both the chemistry department and the Natural Science Division. She served as President at St. Mary’s Academy in Denver; has been on the board of Havern School, Loretto Academy in El Paso, New Ways Ministry in Maryland, and still serves on the board of the National Coalition of American Nuns. She has worked on the Loretto Community staff, served as President of the community from 1995 through 2000. She currently is on the Pakistan Committee, the Loretto Earth Network Coordinating Committee, and edits the quarterly newsletter for the Network.


Earth Saints and Heroes

Carole Eschen

, a Sister of Loretto, graduated from Nerinx HalI High School, Class of 1960. Her BA degree was from Webster University in St. Louis and her BS was earned at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. Carole has taught for many years in her fields of choice, i.e., biology, Middle School science and math. Carole spent a recent sabbatical in Ghana, West Africa at Prince of Peace School in Kumasi. In this booklet Carole writes about Jane Goodall who has been an inspiring figure in her life and in that of her students at Kansas City Academy.

Maureen Fiedler

is a Sister of Loretto and the host of Interfaith Voices, a public radio show heard on 65+ stations across North America. She has been involved in interfaith activities for more than three decades, working for social justice, racial and gender equality, environmental sanity, and peace. She is a member of the Loretto Earth Network Coordinating Committee. She is the editor of Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women Religious Leaders in Their Own Words, a book (2010) that highlights the growing leadership of women in the world of religion. Her interview with Julia Butterfly Hill is part of that book. She holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University and she lives in Maryland near Washington, DC.

Molly Kammien

is from Saint Louis and graduated from Nerinx Hall High School in 2006. During college, she worked as an intern at the Loretto Office at the United Nations, where she researched climate change and migration. She studied in Boston, Argentina and Ghana to learn about global development and environmental issues. After graduating from college, Molly joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, a program founded on living simply and intentionally with the environment. She now lives in St. Louis and wants to start her first vegetable garden this summer. She plans to attend law school to study immigration and human rights.

Maurice Lange

did much of his growing up on ranches near San Antonio, Texas. He enjoyed swimming in farm ponds and drinking from natural springs.  These early experiences of nature inspired him to pursue degrees in environmental studies and theology.  In 1998, Maurice apprenticed at the renowned Genesis Farm Ecological Learning Center (founded by the Caldwell Dominicans) in Blairstown, New Jersey.  The following year he worked alongside the biodynamic farmers at the Community Supported Garden at Genesis Farm. Maurice moved to the St. Louis area in 2000 and went on to found the Oblate-sponsored La Vista Ecological Learning Center and Community Supported Garden at La Vista in Godfrey, IL some 10 years ago.  He currently serves as the director of eco-justice for the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Kirkwood (St. Louis), Missouri.

Maureen McCormack

has taught at elementary, junior high and college levels and has been a college dean of students. Twenty years ago, when she was president of the Loretto Community, she chose Earth/cosmic issues as a focus of her presidency and continues this focus through service on boards. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology and education and pioneered the Progoff Intensive Journal workshops for women in prison. Maureen has been president of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and serves on its national and state boards. Her publications include a chapter in the books, Midwives of the Future and A Century of Change as well as articles in journals, including one in the international Catholic weekly, The Tablet. Her most engaging recent involvements have been online teleseminars on activating an evolutionary relationship to life taught by Craig Hamilton, a pioneer in the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality. Maureen received the 2010 Humanitarian Award from Webster University, her alma mater.

Earth Saints and Heroes


About the authors:


Annie Stevens

, a Sister of Loretto, currently teaches religious studies at Webster University and Maryville University and writing classes at Saint Louis Community College Meramec. A native of Maine, she taught English in Nashville for twenty years. During that time, she explored many countries and cultures, developed women’s studies courses, and engaged her students in service learning projects. Coming to Loretto as a co-member in 2001, she entered the religious life formation program in 2004 and participated in the intercommunity novitiate in Saint Louis, professing final vows in 2010. She enjoys learning Loretto history and stories and has made presentations at Loretto centers and at the History of Women Religious conferences. She currently serves on the Nerinx Hall Board of Directors and Diversity Committee, the Loretto Pakistan Committee, and the Loretto Community Perspectives Committee.


ary Luke Tobin, a Sister of Loretto, died at Loretto Motherhouse, Nerinx, Kentucky on August 24, 2006. She founded the Thomas Merton Center for Creative Exchange in Denver, Colorado in 1978 and was one of the cofounders of the International Thomas Merton Society in 1987.  Mary Luke was a well-known religious leader, serving as president of the Sisters of Loretto for twelve years and as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for three years.  While president of LCWR she was chosen to attend the Vatican Council as an official auditor.  Mary Luke worked tirelessly in peace/justice endeavors.  During the Vietnam War she made several trips abroad in the interest of peace.  She was a personal friend of Thomas Merton and wrote the article included in this booklet for EarthLight Magazine.

Nancy Wittwer

entered the Sisters of Loretto upon graduation from Nerinx Hall High School. She later returned to Nerinx and taught mathematics from 1962-65 and again from 1973-92. In between she taught math at Machebeuf, a High School in Denver staffed by the Sisters of Loretto. It was there that she pioneered the integration of computer programming into the math curriculum, time-sharing on a mainframe computer in Arizona. She continued this program upon returning to Nerinx and in 1976 with the release of the first Apple computer Nerinx moved from time-sharing into the world of personal computers. In 1991 she left full time teaching to join the administrative staff of the Sisters of Loretto where her primary responsibility was to foster Earth awareness within the Loretto Community by creating the Loretto Earth Network. In St. Louis she initiated several collaborative projects with women religious of the archdiocese including the Women’s Build with Habitat for Humanity, Marian Middle School, the Intercommunity Ecological Council of Women Religious, and the Inter-School Ecological Council.

Gail Worcelo

is a co-founder with Bernadette Bostwick and Thomas Berry of Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she was attracted to dance as an art form for healing Earth. In 1982 Gail joined a monastic community of Passionist nuns and in 1984 began to study with Thomas Berry on topics related to The Universe Story and our role as humans in that story. In 1990 Gail began traveling around the world giving retreats to men and women religious based on her work with Thomas Berry. She has been a workshop presenter and speaker at gatherings such as: The national assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), Congregational Chapters of Men and Women, Sisters of Earth, Spiritual Directors International, Catholic Theological Union, The International European Passionists Gathering, The International Gathering of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Ecuador, Sophia Center, and The Network of Religious Congregations in Melbourne, Australia. Sister Gail was interviewed, in December 2010 for the Advent of Evolutionary Christianity teleseries.


Earth Saints and Heroes

In Honor of the 200th Anniversary of the Sisters of Loretto, founded in Kentucky April 25, 1812

Earth Saints and Heroes A publication of the

Loretto Earth Network For additional copies contact: Nancy Wittwer SL Loretto Staff Office 590 East Lockwood Avenue St. Louis, MO 63119 314-962-8112

Cost: $ 5.00 + postage

EARTH Saints and

Heroes Earth Saints and Heroes A publication of the

A publication of the

Loretto Earth Network

Loretto Earth Network

Earth Saints and Heroes  

A Publication of the Loretto Earth Network