Poems, Prayers, Quotes

Earth Teach Me Freedom (Earth Day) …

Earth, teach me freedom
  as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth, teach me regeneration
   as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth, teach me to forget myself
   as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth, teach me to remember kindness
   as dry fields weep with rain.
— Ute prayer from Earth Blessings: Prayers, Poems and Meditations


I assert that the man who should know the true history of the bit of chalk which every carpenter carries about in his breeches pocket, though ignorant of all other history, is likely, if he will think his knowledge out to its ultimate results, to have a truer and therefore a better conception of this wonderful universe, and of man’s relation to it, than the most learned student who is deep-read in the records of humanity and ignorant of those of Nature.
— Thomas Henry Huxley from Collected Essays Vol. viii (On a Piece of Chalk)


At this moment, for the first time, we saw ourselves from a distance, and the earth in its surrounding dark emptiness not only seemed impossibly beautiful but also impossibly fragile. Most of all, we could see clearly that it was finite. This does not appear to us on the earth’s surface; the land or the sea stretches to the horizon, but there is always something beyond. However many horizons we cross, there’s always another one waiting. Yet on glimpsing the planet from deep space, we saw not only the true wonder of its shimmering blue beauty, but also the true nature of its limits.
— Michael McCarthy from The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy 


Sojourns in the Parallel World

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension—though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it “Nature”; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be “Nature” too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal—then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
— but we have changed, a little.
— Denise Levertov from The Universe in Verse



Prayer of Blessing
Blessings on the day
   born of night.
Blessings on the earth
   wedded to heaven.
Blessings on the creatures
   adored by angels.
Blessings on our bodies
   alive with spirit.
Blessings on our minds
   filled with dreams.
Blessings on our hearts
   opened by love.
Blessings, blessings, blessings.
— John Philip Newell from Praying with the Earth: Prayerbook for Peace


See Also:


The natural world can offer us more than the means to survive, on the one hand, or mortal risks to be avoided, on the other: it can offer us joy.
There can be occasions when we suddenly and involuntarily find ourselves loving the natural world with a startling intensity, in a burst of emotion which we may not fully understand, and the only word that seems to me to be appropriate for this feeling is joy.
— Michael McCarthy from The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy