I have founded a new appreciation for trees. I pass, study, and sit by them. Yet spiritual guidance from them is as difficult as giving up chocolate or deactivating my Facebook account for Lent. Trees say so much, yet we hear so little. I can shamelessly say, that I am far from being a tree-hugger. For I have learned that the term “tree-hugger” should not be used lightly. Where did that term even come from?

This is history the trees in Reni village tell; yet not many hear. It follows back to 1974, when women from Northern India threatened lumberjacks by hugging trees. This halted companies from taking down their source of food, heat, and ultimately – their home. It was a condescending tone in silencing viability.

This only made me wonder, what other human and non-human voices have been silenced?

When I think about environmental injustice, I think of the world and everything that makes part of it, as being silenced. No voice. No choice. Deprived of dignity. It’s about the oppression of life as a whole.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where overconsumption is trendy. It is a world in which our massive resource extraction is possibly leading us to our sixth extinction. We are at a place where fresh food markets, non-toxic tap water, or clean air are not a choice for the low-income population.

And if our country’s public health crisis wasn’t enough, the way in which we carry out all of these functions are affecting others as well. The hunger for resource findings and our climate change contributions are causing environmental refugees across the world. Who knew we shared a planet…

Polar bears are being stripped from their icebergs. Songbirds are being stripped from their trees. The Carteret people are being stripped from their islands. Farmers are being stripped from their way of farming. Parents are stripped from their children during resource warfare. Children are stripped from parents to modern slavery and sweatshops.

Our unawareness to the holistic mechanism of the world has deprived us from seeing our impacts and appreciation for our planet, our home and the brother and sisterhood that came with it, whether it is human or more-than-human. The best passage that depicts this interconnectivity and circle of life is as follows:

“Remember man, that thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return!” (Genesis 13:9)

I think this passage speaks for itself, and it makes me go “wow!” every time. It reminds me of my mortality and at the same time of my responsibility to till and love the land that is mine and whom I am its.

Lent invites us to hug a tree; to embrace and protect life. It invites to wake up every morning saluting the sun and to go to bed every night thanking the moon. It invites us to make the best effort to use water bottle instead of plastic bottles. It invites us to love and respect the Earth and our neighbors.

More over, it invites us to prepare ourselves for fear and acceptance. We will encounter the fear of failing and of not doing, or being enough. As an environmental science major my concentration and discernment focuses on clean energy, conservation, and preservation.

But remember, Jesus too was afraid yet He fought his temptations.

However, there comes an acceptance to which our human capability reaches threshold. We can only do so much for our planet … after that it is up to the Land to decide for Herself and for us to respect that.

Edith Delgado is a third year Environmental Science major who hails from Chicago, IL. She is passionate about environmental justice and has been working hard as the Sustainability Intern this year. As such she recently wrapped up planing a Land Food Connection retreat at Grailville which included cooking classes, performance, and meditations. We are all better off having Edith as an advocate for people and planet.