Forest Fires From Space (NASA, International Space Station Science, 08/13/07)
Smoke plumes from wide-spread fires across Idaho, Utah and Montana are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 15 crewmember on the International Space Station while Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-118) was docked with the station. Looking westward toward the horizon, this image covers an expanse from northern Utah to central Idaho with southwest Montana in the foreground.
© NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (CC BY-NC 2.0)
The commemoration known as Earth Day, first held on April 22, 1970, marks the beginning of what was to become the modern environmental movement. The Earth Day celebration in 1990 led to widespread recycling efforts that our children now see as commonplace in our homes and communities. Given how Unitarian Universalism's Seventh Principle guides us to protect our planet and the "independent web of all existence," then if ever there were a Holy Day for Unitarian Universalists, this would be it.
Thousands of events are planned every year in schools, communities, and cities all across the globe. The Earth Day Network’s website details activities happening in cities all over the world, including ways that communities of faith can get involved.
This year, the Nature Conservancy is promoting Picnic for the Planet, which just may be the world’s largest Earth Day celebration. Events are planned all over the country for people to celebrate with picnic lunches on Sunday, April 22. Money they raise will be matched dollar for dollar by the Nature Conservancy to help protect sources of food and clean water.
Even if there are no official Earth Day events or activities in your area (and you are not feeling motivated to initiate them regionally), parents can still commemorate Earth Day through intentional efforts as a family: taking time to clean up a local park, making items out of recycled plastic or other disposable items, even planting a tree. The important thing is not so much what you do, but that you do it. While your family may regularly recycle and engage in other “green” activities, celebrating the day as a holiday for Unitarian Universalists lifts it up and highlights its expression of one of our deepest values.
Earth Day is a time to celebrate the gains we have made in the areas of conservation and environmental protection. It is also a time to recognize how far we have yet to go and to understand that we can all play a part in the process. Earth Day can be a time for families to unite around action and our intentions to improve our natural home. So while every day is a time for Unitarian Universalists to engage in environmental activism, recycling, and being “green,” Earth Day is a time to celebrate those efforts and our connections to the Earth. How can it get more holy than that?
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Michelle Richards is the author of Tending the Flame: The Art of Unitarian Universalist Parenting (Skinner House, 2010).