Greening our Spirits – Earth Day 2023

SSUC is an Earth Charter Community. In the mid 2000’s, the community was energized and active in living out its commitments around how we want to live out our lives as a spiritual community, as people who together share land, a building, and a responsibility. The commitment to being an affirming community was only a few years old when we were introduced to the concept of Earth Charter Communities: the idea of committing to a framework that not only aligned with SSUC’s values, but that could guide a community who were just beginning to live into what it meant to care for land and a new facility.

What is the Earth Charter?

The Earth Charter is an ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century.

Of course, the charter is centrally concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living. But ecological integrity is only one major theme. The Charter recognizes that there are a number of things all tied together that can’t be seen in isolation: ecological protection, the eradication of poverty, equitable economic development, respect for human rights, democracy, and peace are interdependent and indivisible.

Read more about the Earth Charter.

If you place these areas alongside values that SSUC holds, the values like love, justice, compassion, respect, passion, integrity, creativity, gratitude, inclusivity, responsibility…to name only a few…you can see why we would be interested in aligning with such a global movement.

In this part of the world where we have four seasons, half the year sees our plants and trees go into energy-saving mode, where they lose their green, they store their energy in their roots, stalks and trunks so that they’re ready to emerge again with new growth, new leaves, and the greening of the brown dry wood of winter.

The rivers, for example, remind us of the great harm humans tend to inflict on the planet. To quote the poet Ian Macdonald, in his work Mass for the Rivers,

It is not your fault
you mix with everything
becoming more and less than yourself mile by mile.

solvents from the factory
tailings from the mine
fertilizer from the field
shit from the feedlot
waste from leaking tanks the army base left behind
sewage from the city’s raw flush

You take it all in; it changes you.
And it’s not your fault.

But science also tells us that water in rivers is renewed once every 16 days: in the atmosphere, completely replaced once every 8 days. This is wisdom of resiliency. And it shouldn’t excuse our actions, but inspire us to do better, and learn the strength of the cycle of life’s days and seasons.

This renewal, this greening, this care for the values of justice, sustainability and peace are greened in us as we learn more, and for sure, as we help each other in our commitments to this ‘greening’. Part of seeing spring colours again each year becomes, then, looking at our values with the Charter’s lens and choosing ever better ways each time we journey around the sun on our precious planet.