Happy Earth Day! A Jubilee Year for the Earth
Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! What if Earth Day 2020 is the beginning of something entirely new?
We are seeing it already. The earth is getting a breather – the earth’s lungs are getting blessed. People are seeing blue skies for the first time ever in their lives in Wuhan. Waters are clearing, and we’re seeing dolphins and other marine life thriving in places they haven’t visited in a number of years. As the pollution lifted, the Himalayans became visible for the first time in more than 20 years from a city 200 miles away. A lot more sea turtles are actually nesting because there is space and darkness on the beaches. And there’s so much more.
It is ironic that human lungs are most affected by this dis-ease when we’ve been affecting the earth’s ability to breathe by so much that we have done: dependence on and use of fossil fuels (greenhouse effect), polluting our waterways so that fish can’t breathe, and so on. This disease that affects human lungs is giving the lungs of the earth a breather.
Yet another irony of this pandemic is that the very shut-down that we’re all chafing under has actually made human lungs more able to deal with and survive the virus. Studies are showing that there is a big correlation between pollution and the severity of the symptoms – as well as higher death rates in more polluted areas.
A year of Jubilee
In the ancient Scriptures, every 50th year was to be a “Jubilee year” – a year of complete rest for the earth. The ancients called it a Sabbath for the earth. The book of Genesis talks about God resting after all the work of creating, and then instituting a day of rest for the earth every week. The 7th day of the week was called the Sabbath — it was to be holy — set apart — to celebrate creation. It was to be a time for rest and renewal, just as God had rested at the end of creation.
The Jubilee year was the year following a sabbath of years (49 years = 7 times 7). On that year, the whole earth was to rest. The idea of a Jubilee year was much more far-reaching than that, however. According to the Jubilee tradition, the 50th year was also to be a year where society also had a re-set. Debts were to be forgiven; slaves freed; land returned to its original owners, and so forth. It was to be a true global reset to level out inequities, and to rebalance power structures –to bring equity and freedom for all people, for the land, for creation itself.
What if this 50th Earth Day is exactly that for us?
A Year Of Hindsight and Hope
Bill, a long-time friend of mine, wrote, “we have unwittingly entered what may prove to be Earth Year 2020, a year of hindsight and hope.” Yes, the virus will be around for another year at least, before a vaccine is found and is made widely available. In the meantime, we and the earth are being given a sabbath – a time of complete rest. Sheltering in place is having a huge effect on the earth — it is a time of liberation for creation.
It is also launching a global re-set. Our world will look different on the other end of this. This pandemic is the great leveler in all kinds of ways. We can be afraid of those changes — or we can see this as a time of Jubilee — the necessary leveling and restructuring so we can truly live and thrive — together.
As I wrote in my last post, this is a time of initiation or transition. We are in the chrysalis. And even as we are going through our initiation , our world is being made new. The earth is resting. Take it in. Breathe it. Savor it. Don’t take it for granted. And don’t forget that this time, as hard as it is (I don’t want to minimize that in any way) – is also a time of new birth. May this truly be an Earth Year!
With love and gratitude,