Eugene Friends Meeting

Eugene Friends Meeting

of the Religious Society of Friends ("Quakers")


We are showered every day with the gifts of the Earth, gifts we have neither earned nor paid for: air to breathe, nurturing rain, black soil, berries and honeybees, the tree that became this page, a bag of rice and the exuberance of a field of goldenrod and asters at full bloom. Though the Earth provides us with all that we need, we have created a consumption-driven economy that asks, “What more can we take from the Earth?” and almost never “What does the Earth ask of us in return?” The premise of Earth asking something of me—of me!—makes my heart swell. I celebrate the implicit recognition of the Earth’s animacy, that the living planet has the capacity to ask something of us and that we have the capacity to respond. We are not passive recipients of her gifts, but active participants in her well-being. We are honored by the request. It lets us know that we belong. 

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
Photo by Alan Gillespie

We seek to find greater unity with nature, and develop a relationship with the Natural World. But how can we truly know what the earth asks of us? 

We nurture unity in our Friends communities with mutual care, by getting to know each other deeply so that we can care for each other in the ways that matter most.

When we learn about each other as individuals, we more readily share joys and sorrows, express our needs, and extend our care for each other in deeper ways. While recognizing our own limits and boundaries, we become mutually supportive, loving Friends in every sense of the word.

North Pacific Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice

But getting to know the Natural World well enough to understand how to truly care for it in “the ways that matter most” – that is a tricky intention. You might need several degrees. The history of conservation efforts and solutions are packed with cautionary tales, from the introduction of the invasive kudzu vine in the 1930s by the Soil Erosion Service to reduce soil erosion, to the mining of Rare Earths in the 1990s for low-cost batteries to transition from fossil fuels to electric energy.

Honestly, we all make mistakes, thinking we are doing something good, when in fact we are killing with our kindness. Sometimes it seems like it might be best to do nothing at all; but we can each find a place to start, to stop and listen, and put the Natural World first. 

“We need acts of restoration, not only for polluted waters and degraded lands, but also for our relationship to the world. We need to restore honor to the way we live, so that when we walk through the world we don’t have to avert our eyes with shame, so that we can hold our heads up high and receive the respectful acknowledgment of the rest of the earth’s beings.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Queries for Mutual Care with the Natural World:

  • How can I cultivate a deep working knowledge of the land I care for, so I can assist in useful ways?
  • How do I notice and thank the Earth for the ways it sustains me?
  • How do I need to adjust my world-view and my assumptions in order to be the human the earth needs? 

One Response to MUTUAL CARE

  1. Lovely quotation


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