What does religion have to do with conservation OR fitness? What interest could EarthFit have in discussing theological theories with others? It does seem to be an odd relation, but I saw it immediately when I heard there was going to be a Pub Talk (a public speaker at a winery/brew house) entitled “Is God Green?”. To inspire people into action for the environment, you have to show them how it benefits what they value in their personal lives. For me, I found the bridge between fitness and conservation. And I feel I’ve been modestly successful in conveying my ideas: appreciate nature and get outdoors more, exercise, eat right- all activities that can inspire conservation and environmentalism with the right information and guidance. So, why can’t religion or spirituality also inspire others to take action for a better planet?
I’ve had this discussion before with my mother, who is a devout Catholic, and played a major role in influencing me to become an environmentalist. She taught me to use canvas bags WAY before it was mainstream in my hometown. She accommodated my extreme tendencies of animal activism at a young age, too. The way we both see it, God gave us dominion over all the animals and of the earth, not to be masters and exploit it all, but to be stewards and care for this planet.
I was raised Catholic, and I was taught that everything God made is good. So, if we destroy the goodness that God made, whether that be animals, the environment, or just overusing natural resources like oil and coal, how do you think God would feel about that? To put it another way, the Earth is God’s gift to us, so how do you think He/She feels to know we have destroyed or are destroying that precious gift? There may well be a shift in ethics for religion, especially when religious leaders like Pope Francis are speaking out for conservation, where religion focuses on the Reverence of Life, ALL life, and sees the connection between all living things. With this knowledge and theological discussion, there can be an increased emotional connection with nature, a vital one that calls us out to be the stewards God meant us to be.
Spirituality has an important role in our health, fitness, and well-being, too. Nearly every advisor or mentor I’ve read, listened to, or questioned personally have all repeated similar suggestions and encouragments- to meditate regularly. While I find meditation difficult, it is something I enjoy exploring, and look for different methods to discover the one path that will bring clarity, balance, and calmness to my life.
The speaker at the talk was herself a Catholic, and she shared with her audience some insight to a book that I am definitely adding to my “to-read” list (as if it’s not long enough already). Written by Pope Francis, Laudato Si is the new appeal from His Holiness addressed to “every person living on this planet” for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our “Common Home”. I love the way that is worded. The Earth is our Common Home with every other living being, not just people. We must share this earth with everyone and work together to protect it and cherish it.
Attending the talk, meeting these devoted and dedicated Christians, and discussing the greening of religion has uplifted me. While I don’t consider myself a religious or even very spiritual person, I know that connecting myself to a Higher Power and the Spirit of the Earth is healthy in an emotional and psychological way. It again reverberated the idea that the people of Whidbey Island are my tribe, and perhaps I could find a great bridge for not just conservation and fitness, but spirituality, conservation, and fitness as well. I have so much to explore. I better get cracking!