Newsletter Column 2014 Jan

Thank You, Earth

At Community Unitarian Church, next month's theme will be “Creation.” In January, the invitation will be to explore the spiritual basis for environmental care and activism.

The spiritual basis of anything begins with gratitude, that most fundamental of all spiritual virtues and the ground from which all the others grow.

So let me express my gratitude for Creation:

Thank you, Earth. Thank you for air. The sunshine: morning rising beauty of hope; evening setting grace of gratitude. My brain processes the light that comes from the sky as blue – I’m not clear on why or how a bunch of neurons does that. I have a slightly better grasp on why snow is white, and no clue at all why chlorophyll is green. I don’t know why blood is red, either -- that vivid aliveness motion inside me, and us -- nor why flower blossoms are so variously, brightly colored. I just know the blue sky, winter’s white snow, and spring and summer’s green grass and trees are home.

Thank you, Earth, for ants, worms, beetles, spiders, jellyfish, squid. Thank you for fish: shiny, darting. Thank you for reptiles: tortoises, bright little lizards, and the alligators I left behind in Florida. Thank you for birds, and the unignorability of the fact of flying. Because they are, and I am they, I, too, fly. Thank you for other mammals, the things with hair and milk-making bodies: foxes and alpacas and orcas and rabbits.

I imagine living on a space station: the view, so deep; the black, and vast starfields, filling me with infinity every day. But it takes ground to be grounded. I was made to be among your colors and life and limited horizons, Earth. Even when it is dangerous, too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry, I was made for you, Earth. All the 7.7 millions of animal species, all the three hundreds of thousand plant species, all the fungi, protozoa, and chromista, they were made for you, too, and by you, out of dirt and water and sunlight.

Did you make snakes able to be thankful? Have blue jays gratitude? Lobsters? Maybe they are always grateful – and what they aren’t able to be is not thankful. This is a wonder to me, who am sometimes ungrateful and who other times, like today, am sky-blue thank you and leaf-green thank you and blood-red thank you and snow-white thank you and mud-brown thank you.

Grateful feels good, Dear Earth, and you offer so much for which. Sometimes I forget. Then I remember again.

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