Our Body

Earth Day, part 2

We all die. I reflect often on my own impending death. It brings a certain peace, and a deep cherishing of the moments that I do have. And all species eventually become extinct. But we are here now, we humans, we primates, we mammals. Blue jays, chipmunks, sea turtles, and tuna – garden spiders, lobsters, snails, and beetles – maple trees and oaks, grasses and shrubs – fungi, bacteria, mosses, and molds. We are here now, sharing the blessing and the honor it is to be alive – to be a member of a species that is here, for now. The gentle Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, has written:
“The bells of mindfulness are sounding. All over the Earth, we are experiencing floods, droughts, and massive wildfires. Sea ice is melting in the Arctic and hurricanes and heat waves are killing thousands. The forests are fast disappearing, the deserts are growing, species are becoming extinct every day, and yet we continue to consume, ignoring the ringing bells. All of us know that our beautiful green planet is in danger. Our way of walking on the Earth has a great influence on animals and plants. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the condition of the world. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps. We have to hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet. We have to start learning how to live in a way that a future will be possible for our children and grandchildren.”
Intellectual understanding of what is happening is crucial. No less crucial is the spiritual understanding that this planetary body is your body. This Earth is hurting, and that pain is our very own pain, crying out for healing. That’s not just a few polar bears starving and stranded on an ice chunk – that’s us stranded on that ice. The cry of the forest withering into barren desert is our cry. The lament of acidifying oceans is our lament, not simply because the fate of sea life affects humans, but because the ocean is our body as much as your kidney and blood are your body.

Salvation lies, I believe, in our connection with this world of ours. The salve for our woundedness, our fragmentation, lies in nature. Connecting to the sacredness of the earth is what saves us – and it’s also what will save the Earth, if it will be saved.

Ecospirituality is the understanding that “our experience of the divine comes through the natural world.” As Thomas Berry put it:
“The universe is the primary revelation of the divine, the primary scripture, the primary locus of divine-human communion.”
And as a recent campaign from the Sierra Club said:
“This is not about getting back to nature. It is about understanding we've never left.”
We may ignore what is happening to our home, break our connection to the holy whole, break faith with the ground of our being. We might do so out of hubris. We might do so out of despair. Either would be a form of faithlessness.

We are given this amazing gift: life, for a few short moments – life amid this beautiful self-organizing universe. We are given this brief chance to be in the dance of creation with millions of other species of animals and plants. And we are given a mind and heart and spirit that empowers us to choose, if we will, to engage in the healing of our world.

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This is part 2 of 2 of "Earth Day"
See also
Part 1: The Climate It is A-Changin'

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