The challenge for today's elders, and for all of us, is to transform
our way of living on Earth and find ways to fulfill basic human needs
with integrity and in balance with nature.
— The Vision of Earth Elders

Fred Lanphear
Connie Mahoney
“Our generation has been a major contributor to the actions that are compromising the health of the planet and we must be accountable and do all that we can to correct the disastrous trajectory we are on. As an elder, I have a unique perspective to share with my peers and more importantly, with the generations that will follow me. I have decided to take on the mantle of Earth Elder, one who speaks and cares for Earth and future generations. . ."

"I have a vivid recollection of Connie reading that wonderful proclamation of Native American wisdom, 'Hopi Elder Speaks.' She is standing before the microphone in the wooded grove at Jenner. Her voice trembles with a powerful passion for ALL elders. A strong wind from the ocean is blowing Connie's silver hair back from her face — a face that is smiling out to the whole world, a face that communicates a fierce excitement for beliefs now put into action. . ."

Click here to access Fred's articles, including the one excerpted above. Click here to access the article excerpted above.

What is an Earth Elder?

First, an Earth Elder recognizes that we are living in the time of a “Great Turning” when the future of the planet is in peril and human beings are called to serve the life-affirming powers of the earth. As Thomas Berry said, “The glory of the human has become the desolation of the earth; the desolation of the earth has become the destiny of the human.” An Earth Elder is able to recognize the role that his or her own destiny is to play in the larger destiny of the human species.

Second, Earth Elders are aware of the “Universe Story” that tells of a new cosmological origin myth, beginning with the great “flaring forth” and evolving through the eons of life on earth to produce the unique gift of human consciousness. One implication of this new story is that human beings are now cocreators in the ongoing development of life on this planet. Without the cooperation of human beings, the trajectory of life on this planet will be tragically altered.

A third value of Earth Elders is a profound awareness of the “partnership of generations” that exists among the spirits of ancestors who have come before us, human beings who are alive in the present and the spirits of those generations yet to be born, generations who are counting on those of us who are alive today to make their lives possible. The capacity to experience the yearning of future generations requires a sensitivity to what the Gaian teacher Joanna Macy calls “deep time.” These three values — the Great Turning, the Universe Story, and the Partnership of Generations — provide the core images around which an Earth Elder initiation is organized.

— Randy Morris


Thomas Berry

November 9, 1914-June 1, 2009

The Rev. Thomas Berry, a Catholic monk who spent his life championing a mutually enhancing relationship between humans and Earth, died in his native Greensboro, NC, on June 1. He was 94.

Berry considered himself a cosmologist and "geologian," an Earth scholar, rather than a theologian. His seminal works include The Dream of the Earth, The Great Work, and The Universe Story (co-authored with physicist Brian Swimme).

To paraphrase the conclusion of the Gospel of St. John: If every one of the many things that Thomas Berry did were written down, the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. When our lives are touched by a great spirit, their work continues on in the many things we do. My colleague Ted Purcell wrote endearingly of this in his tribute to Thomas Berry published in Itineraries in Spring 2008.

Fr. Berry's remains were laid to rest at the Green Mountain Monastery in Greensboro, VT, which, like Genesis Farm in New Jersey, is among the many places where The Great Work he lent his voice to continues.

— Bolton Anthony

Editor's note: When I first met Connie Mahoney at an Jubilados conference at Ghost Ranch (NM) in 1999, she had just come upon the proclamation of Native American wisdom below and was avidly sharing it. I have followed her lead, using it in every Visioning Council I lead.

Hopi Elder Speaks

You have been telling the people that this is the eleventh hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the hour
And there are things to be considered...

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.

It is time to speak your truth,
To create your communities,
To be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for a leader.

Then you clasped his hands together and laughed and said,
This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. 
It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. 
They will try to hold on to the shore. 
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. 
Know the river has its destination. 

The elders say we must let go of the shore—
        push off into the middle of the river, 
        keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. 
See who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves;
Banish the word "struggle" from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!