It is drawing to an end, LAUDATO SI week and the month of May, Mary’s month but also parenting month on my calendar with its focus on OUR WORLD A FAMILY OF FAMILIES which naturally includes the world of nature too.

Shot of a little boy being comforted by his mother

While the month may end, the realities never change and CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME, the subtitle of the LAUDATO SI encyclical, is very much an ongoing and lifelong task.  First we are mothered, most likely a lifelong primary relationship, and gradually through stages of life we become a mother, and eventually possibly a full-blown mother figure.  However not every woman bears children and through the centuries, in the Church, many women have been mother figures to one another and younger women in religious life, as well as to children and infants.

Spending a few days away from the city on a working farm in the Northern Cape has given me wonderful opportunities to focus on the mothering idea and maybe ideal too.    On arriving here I was bombarded with noise, the sad, mournful lowing and crying of calves and their mothers in the separation process as the calves are weaned at 8 months. This mournful crying carries on day and night, until after a few days it dies down and finally silence and the occasional mooing returns. At the same time on the farm here, an extended family of dogs happily play and gambol about. Even my city-dog Nessie has found farm life much to her liking, although she is always conscious where, I her earth mother, am at any time.

crying calves being separated from their moms

Apart from all this lively hullabaloo, mother earth is more or less at rest.  It is winter after all, and we must expect the occasional cold spells in largely a dry season.  Despite the serious issue of climate change, mother nature continues her routine. Sunrise and sunset follow as the day follows the night with Brothers Sun and Wind and Sisters Moon, the Stars, and Water reminding me of St Francis and the Canticle of Praise of the Creatures.   

But who and what is an “Earth Mother?”  Some dictionaries recognize the embodiment of fertility and nurturing, some apply the concept to human families and mothers who seem full of emotional and spiritual understanding and seem suited to having and loving children.  I believe that with a more encompassing vision it can include lovers of nature, gardening and caring for animals, especially those in distress. A friend with whom I am staying on the farm is for me a real earth mother.  She shared her own human family nurturing story which, I think others would agree, includes breast-feeding babies and, to a point, even includes the sadness of weaning as the cows and calves demonstrated. For her it also includes love of animals and her caring for newborn calves and lambs.  Is that not eco-awareness and ongoing eco-conversion.      

So the Church concludes #laudatosiweek and invites us to embark on our own journeys of deeper eco-conversion.  Franciscan Fr Daniel Horan, a committed eco-theologian writes.     “I am especially grateful that Pope Francis has scheduled Laudato Si’ Week 2021 — a time set aside to celebrate the anniversary of the encyclical’s promulgation and focus our personal and collective attention on the need for ecological conversion — to overlap with the Solemnity of Pentecost.    Such a correspondence in scheduling invites the church to reflect more deeply on the role of the Holy Spirit, not only in our lives as humans, but also in the broader community of creation. “

for we know that things can change. LS13

How can we incorporate the loving, nurturing, motherly touch in our mission whatever we have chosen it to be?  From a family perspective,  maybe it involves a growing awareness of Mother Earth and becoming Earth Mothers. . 

Mother Mary, Mother of the Church is also Mother of Creation.  How often don’t we associate her with flowers? Motherhood is a practical reality but being, becoming or choosing to become an Earth Mother can surely complement the task of Mother Earth.

The LAUDATO SI presentation OUR WORLD A FAMILY OF FAMILIES can be viewed any time on Youtube