For the Healing of the Earth

Midweek Faith Lift

April 27, 2022

“For the Healing of the Earth”

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis


Spiritual Passages

Listen to the Cry of the Earth



Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued an unprecedented joint appeal to members of their Churches to "listen to the cry of the Earth" and back action to stem the effects of climate change. They prayed together that the leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference will make courageous choices.


“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle, 1786-1866, a Suquamish and Duwamish chief. The city of Seattle was named after him.


Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, I hold sacred the earth-home in which I live, move, and have my being. I pray that the citizens and leaders of our precious planet are steeped in wisdom, compassion, vision, and courage, that the divine mandate to be good stewards and holy protectors is fulfilled. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.



We reflect today on Psalm 67 from the Hebrew Scriptures, which is a song  meant to be chanted or sung. Let’s listen to what Spirit is saying to the people:


Psalm 67

The Nations Called to Praise God


1 May God be gracious to us and bless us

    and make his face to shine upon us,


2 that your way may be known upon earth,

    your saving power among all nations.


3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;

    let all the peoples praise you.


4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

    for you judge the peoples with equity

    and guide the nations upon earth.


5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;

    let all the peoples praise you.


6 The earth has yielded its increase;

    God, our God, has blessed us.


7 May God continue to bless us;

    let all the ends of the earth revere him.




This is an ancient song from the Hebrew Scriptures that recognizes all the nations, all the tribes within Judaism and beyond as it recognizes that the power of God, or as we would say the power of Love is invoked to guide all the nations upon the earth.  The language is ancient, but the sentiment couldn’t be more timely and relevant.  As I was preparing this talk today, I looked back through my prior Earth Day talks and I noted that in 2016 we did a whole month of Earth celebration to call us to mindfulness to care for and love the earth, our island home. You realize the words earth and heart are anagrams of each other, right?  So how can we love what God loves, how have we loved the earth?


In the time since 2016, I had to ask myself what have I done, what have we done to care for the Earth, to reduce our carbon footprint, to care for the animals and their environment and for each other.  I was happy to note that we as a church community have made some steps in a positive direction.  Since 2016, we have replaced plastic utensils with metal ones that we wash and reuse.  I have consistently tried to remove all Styrofoam cups, plates and bowls and replace them with paper which is biodegradable.  Whenever Styrofoam shows up, I will continue to remove it and return it to the store if possible and I ask your support in that effort.  Since the Pandemic, we have let go of paper bulletins and I don’t anticipate them returning, so we use much less paper.  We also have a much smaller printer rather than a full size copy machine.


Personally, I replaced my car with one that gets much better gas mileage and I only come to Ames two times per week now, which reduces my carbon footprint.  I sincerely try to drive slower to also save gas, but that is usually on the trip home, not the trip to Ames!  We recycle everything at home, I use my own bags for all grocery trips and we no longer use plastic straws. We have only the CFL light bulbs throughout our home, and also here at church. We turn the heat way back at church when no one is here and the AC up in the summer.  Short of installing solar panels on the roof of the church and my house, there is not much more we can do on that front.  At least most of our electricity comes from wind in Iowa, not coal. 


But so much more is needed to clean up our water and restore the soil to health in Iowa and throughout the Midwest.  And that is our dilemma in contemplating this urgent need for the healing of the Earth.  Do you remember the early days of Pandemic lockdown when the air pollution lifted in India and they could see the mountains?  Animals returned to waterways, smog cleared, we could actually see the impact of our modern lifestyle on the earth in a way that we could no longer deny it.  Now we pray and witness the impact that climate change is having on our Earth and look for ways to adapt and adjust to a process that we have been a part of creating. 


What do you do when you feel overwhelmed and that your efforts are not enough and you can see that they can’t be enough?  That is a question I have been sitting with personally and collectively as I contemplate the changes that I have been noting.  One source of help and support has been through a website called Daily Good, and this particular post was so insightful:

The question is what can we do when a love one is suffering, and in this case the loved one is our Mother Earth, who is in fact suffering.


One of the most challenging aspects of encountering the impact of climate change is the realization of what little impact we as an individual person can have.  No matter what we do, the impact continues, so the helplessness and sense of futility can be debilitating.  However, as Littlewoo writes in this April 15, 2022 essay:


           The key lies in this realization: Our purpose is not to alleviate all the suffering that we encounter. This is a heavy, impossible burden and we will burn out. Our purpose is to create beauty and meaning through our soul connections and expressions. In other words, our ability to see and interact with each other on a soul level is our deepest gift.

          It is also a gift that nurtures both the giver and the receiver.


What she proposes and suggests is what she calls “Holding Space” which is very much akin to what we do here in our prayer practices at Unity of Ames.  We do this in full accord with the Divine energy of Love, of God that was described in Psalm 67 at the opening of this talk. 


What does “Holding Space” entail, what does it mean?  When we can find meaning in the suffering, then it has the potential and capacity for deep healing.  Holding Space for the earth is first the gift of deep attention and being a sacred witness to what the Earth is experiencing.  It is being mindful and present, moving from scared to sacred witness, because the changes on the Earth are somewhat scary. 


Holding Space for the Earth is the gift of deep reverence and bearing witness to both the dark and the light.  We have deep reverence for the beauty of the Earth and deep reverence for the healing needed by the Earth.  We have deep reverence for the Earth’s own ability to heal itself given the necessary conditions.


Holding Space for the Earth is the gift of unconditional love that native peoples demonstrate so powerfully in their relationship with the Earth.  We cultivate that same unconditional love that allows us to witness the suffering of the earth with a courageous presence to really see what is happening.  Even when we want to look away, we stay present with a courageous presence.


Holding Space for the Earth is the practice of seeing the Soul of the Beloved, seeing the Presence of God, of love in all creation.  It is having a deep compassion for the suffering that moves us to do all we can to alleviate that suffering.


Holding Space for the Earth is realizing that we are in a sacred relationship with the Earth, a relationship of Namaste, of mutual seeing and respect.  We truly recognize that we are always connected to the Earth and to one another.  The suffering Mother Earth is our suffering and the healing of Mother Earth is our healing.


May we hold space for Mother Earth on this day and all days, for the Healing of the Earth.  I will end with a Mutual Blessing that is a powerful affirmation of this sacred relationship.



Mutual Blessing 


Ann Palmer

(Isle of Lewis, U.K.)


May the energy emanating

from every step I take

re-sanctify the Earth.


May the energy emanating

from every breath I take

re-sanctify the Earth.


May the energy emanating

from every action I take

re-sanctify the Earth.


May the energy emanating

from every thought, action,

word and deed of all humanity

re-sanctify the Earth.


And so, by this exchange

of blessings may grow,

in symbiosis,

the consciousness of Oneness. Amen



Blessings on the Path,

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis