This February we at SAFCEI will be celebrating the annual Earth Keeper Day and invite all faith communities to join us. This is a response to the increasing commercialisation of Valentine’s Day; instead of celebrating individual love, we would like to mark the weekend of the 12th– 14th February as a multi-faith Earth Keeper Day to celebrate our love for Creation.
With Valentine’s Day falling very early in spring in the northern hemisphere, it is often associated with the advent of spring. In Slovenia, St Valentine, or Zdravko, was considered to be one of the saints of spring and good health, and the patron of beekeepers and pilgrims. A proverb says that St Valentine “brings the keys of roots”, with plants and flowers starting to grow on this day.
It is with this in mind that we would like to turn Valentine’s Day into a day that honours and shows love for the Earth, just like St Valentine did. We would like to see it as a day in which we can all feel a deep sense of connection and love for Creation. So we invite you to unite in prayer, creative fun and play with faith communities across Southern Africa and celebrate all life around us.
We live in a time where a greater ecological awareness is needed and thus we extend the challenge to all faith communities to replace the consumerism of this weekend with a spiritual and pragmatic honouring of this day as keepers of the earth to express awe, respect and love for the sanctity of all life. We invite you to sign up so that we can send you our Earth Keeper Day pack and share our stories of celebration.
But beyond this annual celebration of love for Creation on the weekend of 12th -14th February, we would also like to see Earth Keeper Day as a meaningful start to new lifestyle habits that express love for Creation. SAFCEI’s prayer is that this shift from a commercialized celebration of Valentine’s Day to an ecological love of creation celebration of Earth Keeper Day will result in a change in how we live our lives; a change that continues the honouring and loving of Earth that we expressed on Earth Keeper Day.
For this we have put together a multi-faith liturgy for a combined celebration of Earth Keeper Day by people of different faiths, gathered together in their common concern for the environment and community of life. We also include suggestions for possible outings and activities together with multi-faith prayers and devotions to ensure a spiritual overtone, as well as pragmatic action, for your community or family.
St Marks Presbyterian Church in Pretoria celebrated Earth Keeper Day last year; you can also draw inspiration from the liturgy and sermon Rev. Glynis Goyns prepared for the occasion.
However you may choose to celebrate Earth Keeper Day, we hope that the following words from Thich Naht Hanh’s statement “Falling in Love with the Earth” will inspire you – not only on Earth Keeper Day, but throughout the year as you continue your journey as a Keeper of the Earth.
Great Mother Earth
[…] When you realize the Earth is so much more than simply your environment, you’ll be moved to protect her in the same way as you would yourself. This is the kind of awareness, the kind of awakening that we need, and the future of the planet depends on whether we’re able to cultivate this insight or not. The Earth and all species on Earth are in real danger. Yet if we can develop a deep relationship with the Earth, we’ll have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change our way of life.
Falling in love
We can all experience a feeling of deep admiration and love when we see the great harmony, elegance and beauty of the Earth. A simple branch of cherry blossom, the shell of a snail or the wing of a bat – all bear witness to the Earth’s masterful creativity. Every advance in our scientific understanding deepens our admiration and love for this wondrous planet. When we can truly see and understand the Earth, love is born in our hearts. We feel connected. That is the meaning of love: to be at one.
Only when we’ve truly fallen back in love with the Earth will our actions spring from reverence and the insight of our interconnectedness.
You can find Thich Nhat Hanh’s full statement here