Thou, my everlasting portion,
More than friend Thou art to me
All along my pilgrim journey,
Saviour, let me walk with Thee.


I was once walking in our St. Mary’s flower garden, singing softly within, my favorite hymn “Thou, my everlasting portion…” by the much loved sightless composer, Francis Van Alstyne, better known as Fanny Crosby. Of all the things I had in mind, was the theme announced for ’Flos Carmeli’ articles, UNESCO International Year of Plant Health 2020. How can plant health and protection of the environment boost economic development? What faith lessons do we learn from the plants, the other half of our living world?

As I walked round the garden admiring the beauty of the flowers in a variety of bright hues, shapes and sizes, I was filled with a sense of wonder and remembered that Jesus was enthralled by the beauty of lilies of the field, whose splendor, he felt far surpassed that of King Solomon in all his regalia. As I looked around, at the fruit laden royal coconut trees and the stately Mango trees with their branches raised upward and outward, as if lifted up to God in prayer, I was moved to pray with the Psalmist “….let the fields exult and all that is in them, let all woodland trees cry out for joy” (Psalm 96:11-12).

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time, we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story” Linda Hogan. As I continued my walk there in a line, I heard this voice coming from the beautiful flowers around, so soft and fine. “Welcome to Eden, the paradise of God’s creation, and as you delight in God’s presence in our midst, you will find all the answers to your questions, if you could listen with diligence”.

I heard the Rose plant with its red blooms nearby quite vociferous in its speech, saying on behalf of the rest of the green world. “You humans, live a life laid in the loom of time with patterns you do not see”. But I will ask you, “What about us who nourish and sustain thee? From the womb to the tomb, you rely on us plants for your food, shelter, clothing, and many other wants. Without our contribution, life on earth is just impossible. You who were given the responsible task, by our Creator God, to till the earth and make it fruitful, have failed miserably. You have violated the forests, defiled the seas, and plundered everything like bandits. Your contempt of God’s creation knows no bounds. Have you realized that you have reached the point of no return? Your punishment for these crimes has certainly begun. You can scarcely breathe our air. Your food has become unhealthy. Poverty, famine, destruction, natural and unnatural disasters and calamities plague our planet earth. Stop your exploitation and pollution of the environment. Could the killer virus disease the COVID 19 pandemic, playing the dance of death all over the globe today, with an unprecedented standstill imposed by lock down of all commercial, civil, political and economic activity, be a weapon you have invented, for biological warfare?

Shocked as I was to hear their blame with shame, I was dumbfounded to give an apt reply. Yet, I raised my head in defiance and declared, “You plants are motionless, and feelingless. You are inferior to us in many respects. Prove your equality with us humans, if you dared!”

The Bougainvilleas along the hedges were in full bloom of varied bright colours. They proudly put forth the arguments in defense. “We plants do move freely and gracefully, as you and all the animals do mostly. But of course at a much, much slower pace, because for us it is not a race. Our roots burrow inquiringly in the earth, showing geotropic movement but also growth. When the earth is dry, they move by hydrotropic force, in search of water source, commuting long distances. The shoot grows upwards in the opposite direction, led by the phototropic force. The leaves can transpire in a day, much more water a man perspires in a way. So you see we are constantly preoccupied with bending, turning and quivering. Oh strong man with that huge brain, why are you shivering? 365 billion tons of food you consume every year. Where do you think the food comes from, year after year?”

“Okay”, I said, “We rely on you for food that does not make you all so good”. Bang came the reply even before I could sigh. “We prepare our own food without being shy.” A beautiful Orchid from a potted plant in the corner spoke, giving my thought a little poke and shouted aloud. “Chlorophyll, the green pigment in our leaves using Carbon dioxide, water and sun light can synthesize the food for us and all humankind, to be precise. Can you match the generosity of our selfless contribution to this web of life?”

I was shocked and speechless, and bowed my head in utter shame, for with full green clothing, and all other ingredients of photosynthesis, basking in bright sunshine, I could never produce an ounce of the same. And in all humility said, “I do agree that you all are not less than any”. Nature is our mother who nourishes and teaches values. If every one of us incorporated the concepts of sustainable living by using less and conserving more, the positive impact on our mother earth would be immeasurable.

I expressed my gratitude to my sister plants for their contribution and timely warning. And assured them of our future course of action and said, “We shall keep in mind that we only have one planet and we should all do our part to ensure that it is protected by combining modern ways of living with a deeper respect and understanding of what nature provides. Make the land a garden, and the garden will become an Eden, giving us what we need: bread and peace. Go green, the creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. Protect and preserve nature. We should organize aforestation projects to replace those that are cut, by planting saplings of fruit trees, shade trees and timber yielding ones. We have the grand old lady ‘Salu Marada Thimmakka’ who had no children but planted trees by the roadside and took care of them and has become a role model for generations to come. The organic fertilizers keep the soil alive and in good health. We shall encourage cultivation of crops and vegetables without chemical fertilizers and pesticides and make use of organic farming system comprising of organic wastes such as crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (bio-fertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco-friendly pollution free environment.

“The gravity of the ecological crisis demands that we all look to the common good, embarking on a path of dialogue which demands patience, self-discipline and generosity, always keeping in mind that realities are greater than ideas.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si). As climate change, pollution and rapid urban expansion have come to the forefront, let us take inspiration from the Encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si, and ensure that our planet earth is preserved and protected from further destruction. In conclusion I reiterate, along with St. Francis of Assisi, “Be praised my Lord, for our sister plants of Mother Earth, who feed us and rule us”.


Sister Beatrice Pereira A.C
St. Mary’s Convent, Mangaluru.



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