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Mom: there’s one day a year devoted to her, and if we’re good children, we take her out and treat her extra special. Or at least gush about her publicly on Facebook.
So it goes for mom, and so it goes for Mother Earth.
I was in the midst of a move from Los Angeles to Boulder when it struck me that I was the farthest east of “home” I’d ever been in a car without my mom—the woman who instilled in me a confidence in the exploration of the United States wilderness by road.
It is because of her that I am comfortable wild camping, or camping without utilities on lands tended to by the Bureau of Land Management. It is because of her that I have an appreciation for the natural beauty of this planet—our collective mother. Mother Nature.
I’ve always appreciated Earth, but much like our relationships with our moms, our relationship with Mother Nature is one that tends to change over time with increased awareness and maturity.
In my childhood, I remember being told to get out of the car and pick up a rock as we waited in a long line to enter the Grand Canyon—the first national park I ever visited. We were relocating from California to Colorado for my grandmother’s career. Three decades later, during my own relocation along roughly the same path, I turned the steering wheel toward Zion and Arches National Parks. The thought of taking a rock crossed my mind only from the perspective that I would not do it again—that I would leave these sacred spaces intact or better than I found them.
Being in nature restores a gleeful childlike sense of wonder and play. Visit the land and become nourished and recharged. We all deserve to know and enjoy the magic of reconnecting with Mother Earth. She is, after all, a majestic provider—all the more reason to preserve our open spaces.
Yet even for we who are mindful and aware, we can sometimes forget—like ignorant children—her majesty and all she does for us.
A monk in bright orange clothing that nearly matched the rock formations strode straight past a sign that indicated not to step off trail. These signs serve to protect the fragile ecosystem of the soil as it recovers from years of past trampling abuse. When finally several yards from the intended path, the monk pulled out his phone to have his friend take a photo. I myself accidentally found my feet off the beaten path while distracted by the nature on the park’s matrix of a permitted trail, Fiery Furnace.
We all get distracted by life or adventure from time to time, and as a result neglect or abuse our relationship with our mother, both natural and biological. But isn’t it time we stopped using our distraction and busy-ness as a justification for such actions?
There comes a time when we must make an effort to continue to get to know our moms on a deeper level—as humans rather than simply providers. We must communicate in ways that allow us to grow more intimate and better understand her. This attempt should come more than just one day a year.
Our relationship with Mother Nature must be similarly nurtured. We must continually seek out opportunities and literature to come to better understand her and show her our care. And it should not be just on Mother’s Day, but every time we step foot onto her soil—our home.
We have one mother. We have one Earth. Both must be treasured.