Arts / Faith and Humanities

Earth Month: Indigenous elders are teaching me the lesson of abundant generosity

April 6, 2021

Alumna Claire Lucas, '19, moved to rural Montana after graduation to work as a caregiver for Native American elders. She penned the essay, "Indigenous elders are teaching me the lesson of abundant generosity," for the National Catholic Reporter's EarthBeat blog.  

"These elders have become friends and mentors, while I have had the opportunity to care for them and get to know them," writes Lucas.  

Following are excerpts from the essay:

"The elders show me that even amid constant complexity and suffering, the world, and especially the natural world, is good, just because it is, not because of what can be extracted from it for individual gain. Consumerism, environmental degradation and individualism are assaults on the abundant generosity that is so integral to how the elders have always understood the world and who each of us is made to be.

"This very message is embodied by countless Indigenous activists and leaders like those at the 2016 #noDAPL protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and last summer's protests at Mount Rushmore against then-President Donald Trump's defamation of the Sacred Black Hills.

"These leaders and activists defending the land that was stolen from their ancestors proclaim loudly that the land and all that is in it is good because it is, not because of what can be taken from it or because of what it can produce.

"The elders I work with remind me that an awareness of God in my life and in all Creation is never for myself alone. Instead, I can let this awareness and attentiveness to the Holy One animate me to be in awe, rather than to pursue individual recognition, knowledge or success.

"Environmental justice is deeply connected to context and to listening to the place where we're embodied. It is far past time to let the abundance spill over us and move us toward embodied environmental activism, rather than being motivated by our own individual goals and desires."