A new sprout on a fallen “parent” tree
in a rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula

Study the stars. How far away are they? How ancient? How long does it take their news of the past to reach our eyes? How can they burn with that brightness, and where do stars go when they die?

Study decomposition. How does it happen that death hurries back into life, even in the course of a season? Why is the skeleton of an alder leaf so beautiful, when its life is gone and scattered? What would the noise sound like if we could hear all the chewing underfoot?

Study pollination.
Study predation.
Study rain.

Study celebration. How is it that humans sing in harmony, bringing different voices and different tones together into chords that vibrate stained-glass windows and shake the leaves on the trees? Where does dancing begin? Why does a child’s laughter make us cry with happiness? Can the universe celebrate its splendor without us, or does it need human joy?

These are things we will never completely understand. But trying makes all the difference in the world. The wonder of the ongoing processes of creation astonishes us. Their beauty makes us humble. Their power scorches every bit of arrogance from our raised heads. Their mystery dazzles and confounds us and invites us into the sacred.


— Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson
Moral Ground; Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril