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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Quotes (and more!) for Earth Day 2020

Wednesday April 22 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The day began in the U.S. in 1970 as a response to the environmental crisis. On that day, 20 million Americans (10% of the population) took to the streets and college campuses in hundreds of cities to protest the country’s disregard for the planet. In the U.S., Earth Day eventually led to the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Today more than 193 countries celebrate Earth Day.

In honor of this day, I reached into my “Quotation Files” and selected 15 quotes on nature and the earth from a variety of authors for your reading, pondering, and enjoyment.

1. Every natural object is a conductor of divinity. John Muir

2. A wrong attitude toward nature implies, somewhere, a wrong attitude toward God. T.S. Eliot

3. To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles. Mary Davis

4. Everything about a hummingbird is a superlative. Tom Colazo

5. The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do. Galileo

6. Some birds migrate thousands of miles—and they weigh so little, they could be mailed for a single first-class stamp! Unknown

7. The environment, after all, is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest. It is one thing that all of us share. Lady Bird Johnson

8. We might be saved by a flower, a pebble, a bird, a thunderclap. Anything can bring us a message from Heaven. Anything can wake us up to life right here and now. Thich Nhat Hanh

9. A healthy ecology is the basis for a healthy economy. Claudine Schneider

10. The sheer roaring of energy of things is stunning, miraculous, holy, a prayer, inexplicable, I give up. There is no word eloquent enough for the vast passion of living things. Brian Doyle

11. The beauty of the natural world lies in the details. Natalie Angier

12. We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. Maya Angelou

13. Theologians are wise to close their learned tomes at times and reopen the book of nature. Theology’s heartbeat is the miracle of our own existence. Forrest Church

14. Those who contemplate the beauty of earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. Rachel Carson

15. The care of the Earth is our most ancient and worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope. Wendell Berry

(All photos from Pexels)

+ Do any of the quotes touch you today? If so, which one(s) and why?

+ Did any of the photos today capture your attention? Which one(s)? How did it (they) speak to you?

+ Do you celebrate Earth Day in any way–on the actual day or throughout the year? If so, I invite you to share some of your ideas with us.

I’m offering two short videos today. The first is a 5 1/2 minute nature video entitled “Beautiful Nature Around the World.” The music is “Conquest of Paradise” by Vangelis. The second video is about an old elephant who likes classical music. After the videos, I’m including a lovely prayer/poem during this time of Covid-19…

Ampan is an 80-year-old female elephant who is almost blind. She lives in a rescue reserve in Thailand. She has developed a fondness for classical music, including Debussy’s “Clair de lune.”

And finally, this short prayer/poem, entitled “When This Is Over,” is by Laura Kelly Fanucci from the Catholic Health Association:

When this is over… may we never again take for granted… a handshake with a stranger… conversations with neighbors… a crowded theater… Friday night out… the taste of Communion… a routine checkup… the school rush each morning… coffee with a friend… the stadium roaring… each deep breath… a boring Tuesday… life itself.

When this ends, may we find… that we have become more like the people we wanted to be… we were called to be… we hoped to be… And may we stay that way—better for each other because of the worst.

I welcome your responses to the quotes… the pictures… the videos… the prayer/poem.

32 Responses

  1. Thank you for these beautiful uplifting quotes and videos as I prepare distance lessons about Creation and Earth Day for the children I teach.

  2. Quote 5 stopped me in my tracks – it captures at the same time the Almightiness of God displayed in His awesome creation and His loving care for, and attention to even the smallest living organism.

  3. Good morning, Sr Melannie and everyone!

    Quotation 2 from T. S. Eliot struck me. Sometimes we hear that concern for the environment is a left-wing thing, but here is Eliot, a rather conservative figure, gently clarifying matters!

    Quotation 10 from Brian Doyle struck me for its elation, a kind of modern prose counterpart to “God’s Grandeur.”

    And 13 from Forrest Church is just incontrovertible. Several times in the past few weeks, as Spring has been springing, I’ve told myself I need to go out and do a “lectio divina” with the world!

    It encourages me mightily to know that many monastic communities are earth-conscious and care deeply about sustainability, etc.

    Wishing everyone well. Peace and light, health and hope.

    1. Tomas – I LOVE the idea of doing “a ‘lectio divina’ with the world!” God speaks to us in all of God’s creation – that includes you, too! It’s raining here in NY today, but, donned with mask, I will use lectio divina (and visio divina) during the coming days. Thank you!

  4. Good Morning Sr. Melannie and friends!

    I like this one. The care of the Earth is our most ancient and worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope. Wendell Berry

    All those who deny climate change have offended Wendell Berry. Let us speak truth to those who refuse to acknowledge the science of climate change. It truly is our only hope.

    God bless!


  5. #14 my daily walks outside is the only thing keeping me sane at this point of our quarantine
    Thank you for your writings

  6. #14 – especially in these crisis times, nature can be so healing, and a reminder of the hope and assurance that spring always follows winter, and sunrise follows night’s darkness.

  7. Good morning, Sr.Melannie…
    Good morning, all….

    So much to ponder! I’m with Margaret about quote #5. That’s just beautiful! The human and the elephant. That’s the way things should be!

    Take care, all!

  8. The beauty of the earth as shone in the video is what keeps me going in the hiking community. It’s out there. What a great video. The elephant video brought tears to my eyes, what a great and gentle relationship. Thank God for Rachel Carson and “Silent Spring”, and the “infinite healing of nature.”

  9. Just beautiful Melanie. Thank you. T.S. Eliot’s quote made me stop! Naysayers to climate change along with the mounting pressure to disregard our preparedness in facing COVID-19 makes me wonder if we are really listening to God…Mary Ann

  10. Paragraph two of your prayer is what I am noticing about myself. Im changing, but also hope and pray-As her prayer says,”may we stay that way, better for each other, because of the worst.”

    Thank you Sr.

  11. “Every natural object is a conductor of divinity” I think this is my favorite, although they are all wonderful. And I surely will share “When this is over” with family and friends.

  12. Good morning Sister Melanie and friends;
    Fifty years ago I was a young pricipal, very
    much interested in earth day celebrations
    so I started that at my middle school and
    received a Texas state citation for having
    pioneered it in our area. Fifty years later
    I still go by my old school and you should
    see those trees as big and beautiful as the
    lives and accomplishments of the two women
    that they were dedicated to. Thanks for the
    Deacon Rc

  13. Don’t you just wonder if Adam and Eve participated in Earth Day for generations forward and not for personal gain, what beauty beyond our senses would we have here and now!

  14. Hi
    How often we sat on our porch and succumbed to the beauty of the hummingbird. The memories aroused made me cry.
    And the poem prayer…..
    Don’t we take so much for granted… everyone be blessed in every way until we hug again……

  15. Dear Sr. Melannie,
    As usual, you have started my week with grace!
    I loved the quote by Galileo and #12 about butterflies really hit home since my husband and I have repeatedly observed the life cycle of the Monarch from egg to maturity. They are amazing creatures!
    The music in both videos was lovely and the elephant’s eyes were mesmerizing!
    I pray that when this is over, we will reset at a much slower pace…..

  16. Thank you, Sr Melannie, for these beautiful quotes re : all of the natural beauty we are privileged to enjoy, especially in this C19 time.
    I especially like Quote #3 about ” witnessing 1000 Miracles when we walk in Nature”. Quote 12 and 14 struck me also.
    Much Gratitude to you for the Inspiration you share each week!
    Many Easter Season Blessings,

  17. My dear Sister Melanie, every time I hear your name I recall the grace-filled retreat you gave here at St. Mary of the Pines. We are in the process of selling our beloved property and moving to St. Anthony’s Garden, Covington, LA. I pray you stay in good health and can continue to nurture us daily!Blessings and Peace!

    1. Dear Sr. Gemma,
      My heart goes out to you and all you must leave behind. As one whose friendships include those who are not human, I can only imagine the pain of leaving what surely must be a place of beauty that you love.
      My prayers are with you!
      Sister Ann Marie

  18. THANKYOU for the opportunity to sit still and BE at this time with these reflective and magnificent pictures & especially both videos… as a music lover I was totally drawn to the Elephant and the beautifully performed Clare de Lune… Debussy really captured Earth Day in his day & left us with such musical beauty..
    THANKYOU for the When this is over”. May we be blest as we take such words deep within.
    Cheers & Blessings Rita

    1. How timely was this email. I revelled in the beauty of the birds, especially the Kingfisher, representing Grace and freedom, the elephant, and the music, the water, everything ,reminding us of Gods unconditional love.

  19. Seldom has one mailing, carrying the insights of so many people, brought so much renewed appreciation of the outside to someone dutifully ensconced inside. I cannot wait to be able to walk among it again. I will carry a CD player to a scenic place, listen to Debussy’s masterpiece, and–a la Emily Dickinson–imagine an elephant. Thank you.

  20. Dear Sr. Melannie,
    Everything in your post was so beautiful and meaningful – thank you. I teach at a Montessori school outside Boston. We’ve shared the nature video with our elementary students (now learning remotely) as a meditation and tribute for Earth Day; they will love it!
    Best wishes,

  21. Thank you, Sr. Melannie! Galileo’s quote gets my vote. Also, every time I see a Monarch butterfly, I think of the deceased mother of a lifelong friend who always wore a butterfly pin–a symbol of her transformation through life. A wonderful suggestion came to me today via the CSJs’ weekly newsletter encouraging us to plant milkweed seeds to provide a habitat for the Monarchs. Though I have nothing resembling a green thumb, I’m going to plant those seeds for the Monarchs…and for “Mrs. C.”

  22. Quote about a healthy ecology is the basis of a healthy economy really struck me — we went toward a healthy ecology for a lot of years and now we are finding our way back to bad habits and lifted restrictions — until, ZAP – people have to stay home and voila the environment has forgiven us – skies are blue, water is clear, air if fresh…hello, is anyone paying attention. What does it take for us to take care of our planet??

  23. Nice but I wish you would revise Chapter 10 of your book to reflect good stewardship of our native birds,

  24. This entire presentation was so beautiful and uplifting. Thanks for making my “quarantine” day calm and happy. Sr. Melanie, you have a gift and I thank God for you. May God keep you healthy so you can keep on the good work!

  25. Hi Sr Melannie! I like quote #3, we certainly witness many miracles when we are in nature!
    I wanted to tell you that this week I re-discovered your book of prayer-poems, When the Blue Heron Flies. The first poem, Ambiguity, really speaks to this current time. “Be patient with all that is uncertain in your life.” I shared this poem with co-workers! Thank you for this inspiration!

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Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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