I Am Your Mother

Earth Prayer

Music by Ron Klusmeier
Words by Shirley Erena Murray
Tune Name: ROTORUA

Lyrics as Poetry

I am your mother: do not neglect me!
Children protect me, I need your trust;
my breath is your breath,
my death is your death,
ashes to ashes, dust into dust.I am your nurture: do not destroy me!
Love and enjoy me, savor my fruit;
my good is your good,
my food is your food,
water and flower, branches and root.I am your lodging: do not abuse me!
Tenderly use me, soothing my scars;
my health is your health,
my wealth is your wealth,
shining with promise, set among stars.God is our maker: do not deny God,
challenge, defy God, threaten this place:
life is to cherish,
care, or we perish!
I am your mother, tears on my face.

Words by
Shirley Erena MurrayCopyright © 1996 by Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, Illinois • USA

Comments About Song

Comment by
from her book
“Every Day in Your Spirit” (#16):

“Living in New Zealand, with it’s ‘green’ culture and Maori creation stories, I feel strongly about the ‘theology of the earth’. This is written in the first person to compel attention!”

Every Day in Your Spirit
is published by:Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, IL USA

A Reflection by hymnwriter

The Hebrew Scriptures begin with a hymn of praise celebrating God and God’s creation. Genesis Chapter 1 was not understood as a scientific explanation of how the world as we know it came into being. The poetry of the chapter reflects a creative, caring God who calls all that is into being. God smiles upon what has been called into being and announces “It is good!”

Reciters of the poem, or perhaps singers, invite all creatures, all peoples, to join in sharing God’s delight. What is delighted in must be cared for, protected, safe-guarded, shared. What is good is holy, it shares in the very being of God. The relationships of creation are relationships of dependence and interdependence. The human ones differ from other creatures by sharing responsibility for the earth, its resources and its creatures. Human choice will visit blessing or curse on earth, water and sky (air). A cared for earth will provide food and shelter, beauty and joy. An exploited earth will lose the capacity to bring forth life and blessing.

In the law as expressed in the Book of Leviticus, one of the ways in which a stewardship of the land is to be exercised is in the practice of Sabbath – the weekly Sabbath but also in Sabbath years and in the 50th year, a year of jubilee. Prophets like Ezekiel speak words of judgement on those who despoil the land and displace the poor and other marginalized people. Isaiah speaks of the trees of the field clapping their hands as they join in God’s gracious restoration of a people returning home from exile. Many of the Psalms sing the praises of God and of creation. In the Book of Job there are long passages celebrating the mysteries and wonders of creation. Job is reminded that, however much he might know, there is still much in creation that he knows only in part and much that he will never control. Through Job, we are reminded that that same “knowing in part” is true for every successive generation. We are suffering and celebrating people in the midst of a world much bigger than we can ever be. The Book of Revelation ends with the proclamation of an earth renewed and bringing healing and blessing for all nations.

Through the centuries the church, like the societies in which it took root, spoke and acted with ambiguity. Earth was cared for and exploited. Sometimes this was with partial or full knowledge of what was being destroyed. Sometimes it was unintentional but nevertheless destructive. The ravages of periodic droughts in parts of North America, for instance were the result of lack of rain, hotter summers, stronger winds. But it became clearer that harmful farming practices contributed significantly to the cost in terms of soil loss and soil deterioration. Poisoned air and polluted waters were collateral damage caused by many developments in mining and manufacturing world wide. The growth in knowledge of species and habitats and of realities such as climate change caused or contributed to by choices we make, individually and corporately, every day of our lives, deepens our accountability and responsibility.

We must celebrate the work of individuals, groups and societies who have championed creation, sought to preserve essential habitats, changed destructive patterns of consumption and waste and of irresponsible harvesting of earth’s resources. Even the promoting of natural parks, green spaces, reforestation, preservation of wetlands and grasslands, play a critical role in fulfilling our human obligation to echo creation’s song. “It is good!”

In this hymn, Shirley Erena Murray sees our neglect of mother earth, our failure to protect mother earth, our exploitation and abuse of mother earth. Our threatening and destruction of mother earth is a denial of God, a challenging of God, a defying of God. These are strong words, necessary words, before it is too late! Mother earth sings, “My breath is your breath. My good is your good. My health is your health. Please, know that. Please act upon that knowing.”

We must learn, or learn again, about the holiness of life. “Love and enjoy me, savour my fruit, tenderly use me, soothing my scars – life is to cherish, – care …

Please, care!

“I am your mother, tears on my face.”

Two years ago the YFBTA (Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association) began a campaign to urge the Government of Saskatchewan to proclaim and promote an annual spring Arbour Day and Arbour week. We were aided in that by our local MLA, Hon. Warren Kaeding. In May 2020 the Hon. Dustin Duncan, Minister of Environment issued such a proclamation on behalf of the Province of Saskatchewan.

Unfortunately, COVID limited the amount of promotion and programming that was possible. This year (2021) the Hon. Warren Kaeding, Minister of Environment issued a similar proclamation. Gradually, our group is sure, the celebration of Arbour Day will be enthusiastically embraced by individuals, schools and community groups, municipalities.

Many of us in YFBTA remembered when Arbour Day was celebrated widely. At the country school I attended it was a day when the school yard was raked, garbage gathered, and most importantly trees were planted. Often trees were given out for students to plant at home. We learned about trees and about the interconnectedness of all living things. We learned of stewardship, about various local habitats and our dependence on healthy soils, water and air. Arbour Day was a connecting day. We are called to remember Earth Day in April. The two days complement each other. Arbour Day emphasizes local, active and intimate participation.

An ActivityPlan, and discuss with others, how you could observe Arbour Day.

                                                    Audio Sample

One verse played on piano

Scripture References

  • Genesis 1
  • Leviticus 25:1-7
  • Job 38:1-38
  • Psalm 104
  • Isaiah 55:10-12
  • Ezekiel 34:14-27
  • Revelation 21:1-7
  • Revelation 22:1-2

Season, Theme
or Subject

  • Creation∶ care of
  • Creation∶ gift of
  • Earth, Earth Day
  • Ecology
  • Environment (care of)
  • Heal, Healing
  • Nature

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