Inspired by Sister “Dot” Dorothy Stang, “Greening” of the Holy Spirit

Speaking of the Green Man archetype and the the return of the Green Man to challenge toxic masculinity today, one cannot fail to recall what Hildegard of Bingen, also of the twelfth century, said about Jesus.  She called him a “green man.”

This is striking for several reasons. First, it shows how alert and aware Hildegard was to the signs of her times, since the Green Man was alive and well in the twelfth century.  Second, Hildegard developed her entire theology around the theme of greening power which she compared to our blood or to the sap of the tree or to the Holy Spirit at work in us.  Clearly she puts Christ at the center of that energy.  For her Jesus is the bearer of Greening Power, the Sender of the Holy Spirit who “greens” us.  She was a champion of the earth and of preserving and defending the earth.  Jesus therefore fulfills for her the depth of a green prophet, fully alive, fully committed, fully in love with life.

When Jesus taught us to “love your neighbor” was he only thinking your two-legged neighbor?  Or was he also urging us to love our neighbors the trees?  The animals?  The birds?  The rivers?  The ocean?  The whales?  The soil?  The forests?  The air?  The water?  None of which we can take for granted today.  All this love is about standing up to extinction, rebelling against extinction.

Sister Dorothy Stang, who grew up in a large Catholic family on a farm in Ohio, joined the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and worked and lived among the peasants in the Amazon who were assailed by corporate powers wanting to own the Amazon.  She started schools for the peasant children and studied the Brazilian legal system in order to stand up for the peasants and with them.  She became a leader.  Her life was threatened.  

Patron Saint of Extinction Rebellion Resisters

On February 12, 2005, she was walking alone on a dirt path in the jungle and three gunmen came out of the bushes with guns at the ready.  She took out her Bible and started reading the Beatitudes to them.  She was 73 years old when she was gunned down.

Sister Dot demonstrates the courage and commitment that defending Mother Earth is all about. She is one of thousands who were – and continue to be – martyred defending the Amazon.  I see her as patron saint to resisters and Earth keepers everywhere, a martyr for peace between humans and the earth.

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