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Biomimicry & Learning from the Humble Moss

May 2nd, 2023

(Photo courtesy of Thomas Hendele, Pixabay)

By Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND

Recently I participated in a Biomimicry Retreat sponsored by Sisters of Earth.  Sister Gloria Rivera, our presenter,  described biomimicry as learning from and emulating natural forms, processes, and ecosystems to create all kinds of sustainable design and ways of living. She taught us that biomimicry is about valuing nature for what we can learn, not what we can extract, harvest, or domesticate, and in the process, if we listen carefully, we can learn about ourselves and our connection to each other and our home on Earth.

After the first session we were encouraged to take a half hour walk outdoors, paying attention to what offered itself to us. As I hiked uphill from the river through the woods what presented itself to me over and over and over was moss. It was everywhere – all shades of green, fresh and beautiful, on the path, downed trees, even asphalt! I decided that emulating moss would be a great way to live into not only a sustainable future, but a flourishing one. I imagined what mosses might say to us, aware that they have properties we need at this challenging time on Earth:

  • We are on rooftops, under your feet, on cement, in streams and on dry rocks of glades. We are comfortable in extreme conditions. Be adaptable!
  • We are 350 million years old and have survived and thrived through drastic climate changes. You an do it too.
  • You can find us on every continent and in every ecosystem habitable by plants that use sunlight for energy. Renewable energy can also be your way.
  • We impact the temperature of soil, warming or cooling it depending on the environment. Use your creativity for the health of our planet.
  • We make up a major part of the biodiversity in moist forest, wetland, mountain and tundra ecosystems. Please protect biodiversity.
  • We even offer microhabitats where a variety of insects can live, lay their eggs and hunt for food. Find ways to serve animal life.
  • We are in no hurry. It may take us 25 years to grow an inch. Slow down and enjoy each day.
  • We are never alone; rather, it is our nature to be continuously in contact with other beings, like the ones we grow on. Value the web of life and be in touch.

Maybe you will also take a hike and see what presents itself to you for your emulation. May all of us embrace biomimicry as one hopeful way into a flourishing future!


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