To Our Dying Mother: A Letter to the Planet

Reader’s Note: While walking on a winter hike in the woods at Brown County State Park in Indiana with my husband, I had the clear feeling that the woods represented an ancient woman whose glorious beauty was casting it’s shadow upon us as we made our way through the woods. In the context of climate crisis, this is my letter to her, Mother Earth.

Dear Mother Earth,
What a precious gift to spend these past few days with you. I cherish those moments we had together when I sat still by your side and listened to you tell me your stories about what your life has been like. Time with you clears my mind of worries and uplifts my spirit. Troubles seem far away when I am with you. Now that I’m back home in the city, I’m missing you and not sure when I will be back to see you again.

One thing I will always have with me are the moments we shared when nobody else was around. It was in those quiet mornings together that I most clearly saw your beauty. Even now in the winter of your life, with fragile bones exposed and with the bright colors of past seasons faded, your radiance warms my heart. I am in awe of how gracefully you embrace change, even now near the end.

Of course we don’t know when your life will end. Not even the experts know for certain. But we all are worried about your well-being, noticing frightening signs of your steady decline. Most of your children are deeply concerned, not just me. We don’t know what we will do when you stop breathing. What will life be like with you no longer with us?

That’s why I wanted to write to you now, while it’s on my mind. I wanted to be sure I told you thank you. Thank you for embracing me through all the years of my life. From the Pacific seashore of my childhood, to the Ozark lakes of my adolescence, to the Grand Canyon and Scottish Highlands of my young adulthood, to the Atlantic Ocean and Intercoastal Waterways of my early adulthood and to the state parks of my mothering years…thank you Mother for not keeping your love from me. From you I have learned what it is like to truly live, to feel free and strong. Thank you for the wild turkeys, the wooded trails, the bright stars in the night sky and all of this in just 24 hours together.

As you enter into your twilight years, I promise to bring my little boy to come visit you. I know you will want to show him all the things you have shown me. Time is running out. Other things can wait. He needs to know about his connection to you. He needs to experience it for himself. Right now he’s very curious about Mt. Everest. I think we’ll start with the basics, however. 

Like I said when I first sat down to write to you, Mother, it was so good for my soul to be with you. You are beautiful and I love you. We are not very good at taking care of the dying. I am sorry. Perhaps there will be no need to prepare for the end. That is our greatest hope. Many people are working hard to prevent your death.  We are just not sure if we can reverse the damage that has already destroyed so much of your body. There may come a time when we stop fighting your death, but that time has not yet come.

Today we stretch for hope. We look into your deep, rich brown eyes and we hope. Like a newborn whose fresh wet eyes focus on her mother’s face for the first time, we look with eyes of utter dependence, thirsting for connection to the source of our life force. Thank you Mother for nurturing us even when we turned away from you. Your faithfulness endures and will be remembered for generations. 

Love,

SGL

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