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Our May-June 2016 Newsletter
Much Ado About Earth

 

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Spring Come Early at Turtle Rock Farm

Our March Newsletter

Last week,
a 140-seat movie theater
in Oklahoma City sold out
a one-time showing of the documentary
This Changes Everything,”
based on the book by Naomi Klein.
It is climate change
that changes everything. The film’s images
made that painfully clear, as conversations
with friends who saw the film
testify. It became clear to us all
that we’re not doing enough
and that everything we do
and don’t do
matters
and that the more we
come together to do
together,
the better off all life on the planet
will be.

A few of us have been walking
each morning the last eight days
to “hold Earth”
during the UN Climate Summit in Paris.
Emerging for me
during the walking meditation
is a connecting
I haven’t experienced before.
Yes, I notice the frosty grass,
the blue sky,
the birdsong,
oranges, reds, golden in the tree leaves,
sun-glistened strands of spider webs
in the dewy grass,
the beautiful lantern shape of a fallen seed pod,
as well as the steady rush of 23rd street traffic
as Earthlings make their way
into their day.
Too, the focus on left footfall
onto solid Mother Earth:
healing energy flowing up through my heart,
down through my right footfall
and back into Mother Earth’s solidness
beneath me—
through my heart
as part of the entire Earth
community.
This also would seem
not enough
except
that I know there are “Earth Holders”
all over the world.
And activists
all over the world,
local communities in Germany
and India
and Canada
and Paris
coming together,
many footfalls
marching together,
to be “heard:”
for one thing,
“We want renewable
energy.”

This afternoon
a conversation with a young friend
who has many more miles to walk
on this planet
made real for me
that this effort
to respond to climate change
by lowering our fossil fuel use
is going to require much
of us all
working together—
even, or especially,
in Oklahoma (a fossil fuel
Ground Zero)
where the transitions
will be painful.
As we join together
to step up
and step out
of step
for Earth,
may we remember
each step
is grounded in,
part of,
Earth’s lively
life-giving
life.

The Human Community Network's photo.

I know a group of people
who for the last year or more
have been studying
how to bring about
systemic transformation.
That was an abstraction
for me until they explained
what they mean. (We’ll get to that.)
At the same time,
I’ve been slogging through
Naomi Klein’s incredible book,
This Changes Everything.
It’s a slog because it is heavy
with information
and because it’s so well-developed
there’s a lot to take in. I still
have about half the book to read,
but I’m taking it as I can absorb it;
then I skipped from the middle
to the conclusion. There I found
much to inspire and encourage
and I think the effort my friends
here in Oklahoma City have been making
and are about to introduce
to the wider community
is an example of what Klein
suggests.

Climate change, Klein writes,
could be the “grand push,”
that brings together many people,
many movements for change,
that together
can support change,
right the wrongs
of history. “Climate change
is our chance to right those festering wrongs at last…
the unfinished business of liberation.”
It is possible and will take
“the convergence of diverse constituencies
on a scale previously unknown.”

“…any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect.”

The Human Community Network
is a project in Oklahoma
that seeks to bring groups
together to support each other,
recognize the connections,
the interdependency—
the ways one process affects the others—
and work together using various creative
programs and methods
to educate
and make systemic changes
that encourage
the flourishing of life
for all.
This Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.
in Room 151 Walker Center,
Oklahoma City University,
you can meet these visionaries
and learn about how you
can engage in this effort
to build The Human Community Network.
I’ll be there and would love to welcome you,
share in this exciting time
as we go forward through
an ecological crisis
toward a sustainable future.
“Fundamentally,” Naomi Klein writes:

the task is to articulate…an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.

This is another lesson from the transformative movements of the past:…they dreamed in public, showed humanity a better version of itself, modeled different values in their own behavior, and in the process liberated the political imagination and rapidly altered the sense of what was possible.

We are at the beginning of our ninth year
at Turtle Rock Farm,
immersed in nature,
leading retreats and workshops
in an effort to help people connect
with the natural world,
of which they are an interdependent part,
and learn sustainability practices.
Now, as we also participate
in the CommonWealth Urban Farm
community in Oklahoma City,
and with Transition OKC,
we are connecting with a growing number
of Oklahomans, by golly,
who are committed to helping create
not only sustainable life,
but flourishing life for all.
The evolution
of our involvement is surprising—
as evolution often is—
and stunningly hopeful.
In many ways
we see not only
a way through the crisis,
together,
but the possibility that we enter
a time of immense change
in understanding,
in perception,
in action
that will benefit
all life on the planet.

More related invitations:
CommonWealth Urban Farms
Neighborhood Potluck at the Garden
is Saturday, October 31,
11:30-1:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City showing
of This Changes Everything,
the movie, is December 1st,
6:30 p.m. AMC Quail Springs Mall.
75 people must reserve tickets
so that the movie can be shown
in Oklahoma City.

It was my last semester
at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa
that I first made the Cosmic Walk.
It began to transform my understanding
of the planet and my part
living here.
To my horror,
I realized I’d been living in the world
with my “arrogant” eye, as Sallie McFague
writes in Super, Natural Christians.
I’d been seeing all of nature here
for human purposes. Good grief!
And that was less than 10 years ago.
I’m eternally grateful
for Elizabeth Box Price and that class
on “the new cosmology.” It changed life
for me.

So it was a privilege last Friday
to be invited to lead a spiritual formation retreat
with students at St. Paul’s School of Theology
at Oklahoma City University
around the theological and spiritual impacts
of exploring the new cosmology
through the Cosmic Walk
and discussion of the “arrogant eye”
and the “loving eye.” (McFague’s loving eye
sees nature through the lens of everything
in its own difference and detail,
having its own interests
apart
from humans’ interests.)

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What an engaged group of students,
willing to participate in the discussion,
but, most importantly,
to spend a couple of hours on the prairie
just outside Piedmont, Oklahoma,
noticing.
Noticing frogs, flies, butterflies, grasses,
plants, sky, wind…
Nothing could be more important,
in my view,
for our spiritual leaders,
our theological leaders
to know and love
the natural world.

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Thank you Dr. Amy Oden,
St. Paul’s professor of Early Christianity
and Spirituality,
for the opportunity!

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Exquisite Peony,
my mouth gapes
at the sight
of your beautiful
fragrant
simple
miraculous
life.

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Last year Jane Vincent Taylor led a poetry retreat
here at Turtle Rock Farm.
It was a day of pure poetry—
literally
and, well, figuratively. We are looking forward
to her next poetry retreat here
Saturday, May 2.
Here’s what she says about the day:

Bring your favorite pencil or pen to Turtle Rock for a day of new writing and fresh poetry. Surprise yourself by playing a game of scribble, or brain scramble, or erasure writing. Ground yourself at this amazing sustainable farm. Talk to the chickens, question the blue sky, visit the pond. Make spring work for you. With us. With lunch provided. With pleasure.”

Jane’s poetry retreats
bring forth
our innate creativity,
gentleness,
good humor,
depth,
observation skills,
love of life.

I was fortunate
to have recently spent
a week traveling with Jane in New York City,
seeing high urban life
through the eyes of a poet.
Everywhere,
she says, there are poems
waiting to be discovered.

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One of the joys of the retreat day,
we can hope,
will be hearing Jane read
some of the poems
published just a week ago
in her new book.

Register for the poetry retreat
here.

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