I learned yesterday by chance that today is Earth Day - an annual celebration established by the United Nations, its full name actually International Mother Earth Day. Here it has not been well publicised, alas. But it is intended to be a day of appreciation, awareness, action - focused on caring for this wonderful planet, our home, the environment which supports and nurtures us.
I have chosen to share an image of a lotus, this one growing in the Wellington Botanical Garden.
This remarkable aquatic plant (Nelumbo nucifera) is very beautiful and used by many peoples as a symbol to represent important aspects of life. Growing in the muddy water of ponds and rivers, the roots flourish in the soil below, the tall strong stems reach up and out of the water into the air and light - lush leaves and bold sculptural flowers are held up to the sun. In autumn the leaves die back and the seeds ripen and then are dispersed from the distinctive seedpods, and in winter the plant is dormant, hunkered down out of sight in the mud.
So the lotus can be seen to represent: the elements on which we depend - soil, water, air, sun; purification - the pristine flower arising from the mud; the cycles of life, death and rebirth; interdependence, our need to accept that the beautiful and the unattractive are part of the whole (there is no lotus without mud).
And if we study further, it illustrates the complexity and wonder of the natural world that we so often fail to discover. It has remarkable attributes: thermoregulation - the temperature of the flowers is controlled - they are kept warm despite the air temperature, presumably to attract pollinating insects; the lush textured leaves repel water and are self-cleaning - this capacity has been studied and used to inform technological advances; the roots provide food for us; the lotus shows remarkable longevity and resilience - a lotus plant can live for over a thousand years, lotus plants can revive after a prolonged period of stasis, and a seed from a lotus that was over a thousand years old was successfully germinated.
All of this is just a glimpse into the wonder that is this plant.
When I think of Mother Earth I think of the wonder of each and every aspect of the life on this planet, and I wish that we would treasure and protect the life here that we humans are a part of.