HEART AND MIND – April 2024 – Dr. Lou Yock

My daffodils are showing color, and it isn’t even the end of March! Some years we would still
have deep snow and mountains of snow in parking lots. I am thankful for the changing seasons,
and always happy to have a mild winter. While I know the maple syrup harvest was affected this
year, and who knows what may happen to the fruit buds who have a long way to go before we
are free of freezes, I am happy to spend a few minutes outside comfortably jacketless while I
pop across the street for something.

For our Earth Day commemoration this year, we will be reading some sections of love letters to
the Earth from the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (1926–2022), from Viet Nam. Known as the
monk who taught the world mindfulness, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr, and authored the book Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet.

In one of his letters he writes: “I shall walk with my own body and mind united in oneness. I
know I can walk in such a way that every step is a pleasure, every step is nourishing, and every
step is healing—not only for my body and mind, but also for you, dear Mother Earth.”
Every step being a pleasure, being nourishing, and healing—this is certainly aspirational. And at
times, especially in good times, like unseasonably warm weather and daffodils showing color,
even achievable. But I wonder if this can also be achieved in stormier times? I think it really can

Because I know I can always return to Mother Earth, and simply do. Whenever I do, am
reawakened to the miracle of life. Bringing to mind the ageless beauty and transformative power
of Mother Earth, I am reassured that all shall be well and all shall be well, to borrow from Julian
of Norwich.

This is why it is so good that we are able to celebrate Earth Day at our church. It is a day we, if
we choose, can remember to touch the Earth and find refuge in the everlasting healing Mother
Earth offers us. Sometimes I am under the illusion that I am the one who is to protect the Earth,
when in reality, it is Mother Earth who is protecting and healing me, unfailingly and
unquestionably. When I am conscious, and aware of what I am thinking or paying attention to
what I’m doing, it just naturally follows that I am acting well…whether in my words, or deeds, or
environmental actions.

I can fret about this or that, blame myself for this or that fault, or, simply be aware of what I am
doing, and try to do it well. I can aspire to walk so that every step I take is a pleasure, is
nourishing, and is healing, for myself and for Mother Earth.