E kaaro
(good morning) from Massachusetts! I’m back in ilu Amerika and feeling very blessed to begin my 32nd ride around the sun today. I’m spending this birthday weekend with two of my favorite people –my parents – and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with sista-friends to break bread and laugh lots later on this evening. So much fun to have and love to share!

As I knelt in prayer this morning, I began to reflect on all the beautiful babies I saw riding their mother’s backs this summer in Nigeria and how just a few short years ago, I was one of them. I then smiled and became full as I realized that I am still riding on the back of the great mother, mother earth, the Orisa who is called ile ogeere a foko yeri in Yoruba. With each step I take, she supports me. With each breath I breathe, she sustains me. With each bite of food I take, she nourishes me. I am ever surrounded and filled by her gifts and blessings, and I am ever thankful for each and every one of them.

Coupled with my gratitude, I am also deeply saddened by the havoc being reaped on my mother’s back as our society becomes more and more disposable. From one piece of trash thrown on the ground to millions of gallons of oil being spilled into her waters, our mother is being disrespected and not recognized for the treasure she is. Would we throw garbage on the floor in our mother’s house? That’s exactly what many of us do every day with little regard. As I begin the next year’s journey on my mother’s back, I am committed to being better, to doing better, to showing my mother more honor and love.

For Orisa worshippers, the earth is more than just our “habitat” or our “home,” she is a sacred being. She is our mother. She is the one who sustains us in life and who inherits and cradles our bodies in death. She is to be respected, not exploited. Treasured, not trashed. Today and every day, let us be kinder and gentler to our mother. Let us see environmentalism and sustainability not as causes, but as sacred duties. As our ancestors kept her for us, let us let us keep her for our future descendants. Ase!