Reflection for Earth Day, April 22

By Rev. Kathy Schell, Director of Mission Integration, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea

Earth Day, April 22, has always been a significant day for me, as my daughter’s birthday falls on that day.  My mother in law made a joke about the timing of her birth by calling me “Earth Mother!” I was so exhausted that hours ticked by before the allusion sunk into my foggy brain.

Just as my daughter was a blessed gift of new life 31 years ago, so is spring an annual gift bearing renewal of life. I confess to an increasing appreciation of that gift with every year that passes. We have only to glance outside at the flowers and trees blossoming in this season (yes, even in Michigan) to be filled with both awe and hope. This enduring hope, and the solace so often found in nature, is crucial in the “COVID times” in which we live.

In the past year, I have heard numerous people attest that stepping outside and walking, biking, gardening, or simply sitting with attention, has been essential for their emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Here at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, our behavioral health patients walk our beautiful hospital grounds with staff every day, weather permitting. This activity has been part of the therapy schedule for many years, with wise and good reason: nature promotes healing.

Pope Francis said in 2018, “Defense of the Earth has no other purpose than the defense of life.” He reminds us that we have only one planet on which we all live, and our stewardship of Earth ensures life for ourselves and generations to come.

“Gracious God, Creator of the world,
draw us into prayer and celebration this Earth day
as we remember the gifts of your earth and the stewardship you have entrusted to us.
Let us rejoice in the beautiful gift of creation,
the mystery and glory of nature and the earth that has been put into the care of our hands.
Grant us the wisdom and will to conserve your creation.”
(A prayer from the Catholic Health Association)