In my early twenties I returned home for a quiet visit with my parents. The intent of the visit was for me to come to terms with my parents and their religious beliefs and practices. After my own intense study of their religion, and discovering my own sense of spirituality, it became clear to me that what they believed was not in line with what I knew for myself. The discussion took many directions as we touched on a variety of subjects, upon which we could not come to mutual agreement. One of those subjects was the belief in replenishing the earth.
Our religion taught that God commanded us to populate and replenish the earth, which essentially meant to have as many children as humanly possible. Women birthed children until their insides began to fall out and their bodies could no longer produce. It was a woman’s greatest calling to provide mortal bodies for God’s spirit children. And, a man’s path to eternal exaltation as a God himself, was paved by providing bodies for our Heavenly Father’s children.
Even while the population of the earth strains our planet’s ability to provide for all of us, our religions still insist that we must continue with the practice of replenishing the earth, just as Adam and Eve once did on a nearly barren planet. (I have my own ideas about the Creation story but I will save that for another time.)
Our planet needs of a new kind of replenishing, one that involves each of us giving back to the Mother Earth who has cared for humanity since our inception. Unless we carefully and consciously replenish her, she cannot continue to support us in the manner that she has. We have used and abused her. We have ignored her and treated her with blatant disrespect. How long would any woman tolerate the continual mistreatment from her children before she stops supporting them?
While thousands of years ago “replenishing” the earth meant to populate the earth, today it means something entirely different. We replenish the earth with the 5 “R”s.
- REDUCE. We, especially in America, seem to live as if everything is disposable. We buy stuff we don’t need, can’t afford and often don’t really want as a means of making us feel better about ourselves, in a world where so many others have so little. We fill our landfills with everyday items that in other parts of the world are considered luxuries. We overload our credit cards, loans and mortgages to buy needless things without a thought of gratitude for the ability to do so, and without consideration to the strain is puts on our planet’s resources.
- REUSE. I am always astounded by the items I see in trash bins when I go for my morning walks. Clothing with price tags still on them, furniture that looks nearly untouched and children’s toys with barely a scratch on them. While I am not a dumpster diver I have found myself rescuing items, cleaning them up, and donating them to local centers who can then find a new home for them. And, of course, I find ways in my own home to reuse items until they no longer serve a purpose and are then ready for recycling.
- RECYCLE. Nearly everything can be recycled and I am fortunate enough to live in a city that is very forward focused with trash removal. The waste disposal company provides a recycling bin for paper, plastic, glass and metal, it also provides bin for green waste, and a third bin for regular trash, which in my house rarely get filled up. This provides me with the ability to substantially reduce my impact on the planet and her resources. It breaks my heart to see trash bins on my street filled with items that belong in the recycling bin. There is simply no excuse other than laziness.
- RETURN. Composting is our gift back to the planet and really is a gift to ourselves. When we return back to the earth the natural food products that come from the earth, we provide nature with the ability to restore nutrients to the soil and in turn provide us with nutrient rich food. Again I am fortunate to live where I do. My children are learning the value of composting in their public school and our waste disposal company provides composting bins for each home that asks for one, free of charge.
- RENEW. We live on an abundant planet that has that ability to provide us with unlimited renewable resources. Everything on our planet is continually in a state of renewal. Every plant has the ability to seed and propagate itself. The continual flow of water cleans itself, as does our air, as long as we do not stand in the way of nature’s perfect process. We have all of the energy we could possibly ask for in the life giving sun, free to use as we choose. Renewing our planet and her continual resources is just that, a choice. It is a choice that begins first individually, before we can see its effect collectively.
Replenishing the earth does not mean to populate it, but to restore it to its potential to feed, nourish and protect us. Replenishing the earth now means to resurrect within it, the ability to insure our continued survival. We cannot afford to celebrate Earth Day only once a year, every day needs to be Earth Day.