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I think it circles back to the notion that survival, now, becomes a spiritual practice. And that’s where I find my calm returning. That’s where I return to the place where my voice deepens, and I’m no longer residing in the hysteria of politics. That’s where my grounding is.

And it comes back to this: Have I had eye contact with another species today? Be it a chickadee or a praying mantis in the garden or our dog? Or each other?

And I think it also has to do with slowing down so we can listen and hear and remember who we are and who we are not.

—Terry Tempest Williams
Interview in “Yes!” magazine, no. 75, Fall 2015

 

1990 Pale_Blue_Dot NASA“The Pale Blue Dot,”
as Carl Sagan called our planet home as seen on the right side
of this photograph, in a vertical streak, middle of the image,
taken in 1990 from Voyager-I.

 

There’s no use talking about Earth Day until we begin to think like Earth{people.} Not as Americans and Russians, not as blacks and whites, not as Jews and Arabs, but as fellow travelers on a tiny planet in an infinite universe. All that we can muster of kindness, of compassion, of patience, of thoughtfulness, is necessary if this tiny planet of ours is not to go down to destruction. Until we have a leadership willing to make the enormous changes—psychological, military, and bureaucratic—to end the existing world system, a system of hatred, of anarchy, of murder, of war and pollution, there is no use talking about buying more wastebaskets or spending a couple of hundred million dollars on the Missouri River.

 If we do not challenge these fundamental causes of peril, we will be conned by the establishment while basic decisions are being made over which we have very little control, though they endanger everything on which our future and the world’s depend.

—I.F. Stone
Speech at National Mall
First Earth Day, 22 April 1970

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Hawk

This morning
the hawk
rose up
out of the meadow’s browse

and swung over the lake—
it settled
on the small black dome
of a dead pine,

alert as an admiral,
its profile
distinguished with sideburns
the color of smoke,

and I said: remember
this is not something
of the red fire, this is
heaven’s fistful

of death and destruction,
and the hawk hooked
one exquisite foot
onto a last twig

to look deeper
into the yellow reeds
along the edges of the water
and I said: remember

the tree, the cave,
the white lily of resurrection,
and that’s when it simply lifted
its golden feet and floated

into the wind, belly-first,
and then it cruised along the lake—
all the time its eyes fastened
harder than love on some

unimportant rustling in the
yellow reeds—and then it
seemed to crouch high in the air, and then it
turned into a white blade, which fell.

—Mary Oliver
                      Owls and Other Fantasies

Monarch on Redbud

Monarch on Redbud Blossoms

The general law is that every species should have opposed species or conditions that limit them so that no single species or group of species would overwhelm the others—something that would assuredly happen if even a bacterium were permitted to reproduce without limitation over a period of time. The law of limits is what makes the functional rapport between the various life-forms an urgent necessity.

That is the difficulty for humans. We must self-limit.

Our entire industrial system can be considered as an effort to escape from the constraints of the natural world. We have created an artificial context for our existence through mechanical invention and the extravagant use of energy.

When we awaken to a realization that the industrial world, as now functioning, can exist for only a brief historical period, we might begin to consider just how we can establish a more sustainable setting for our physical survival and personal fulfillment. We must, obviously, turn from our exploitation of the natural world to consider once again just how the planet functions and where we belong in relation to the other components of the planet.

—Thomas Berry
The Great Work. Our Way Into the Future

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOia, Santorini, Greece
Photo by Pat Hoerth

The more privileged the intellectual, the greater the responsibility to use our resources, status, and autonomy to face these issues. There is a lot riding on whether we have the courage and the strength to accept that danger, joyfully. This harsh assessment, and the grief that must accompany it, is not a rejection of joy. The two, grief and joy, are not mutually exclusive but, in fact, rely on each other, and define the human condition. As Wendell Berry puts it, we live on ‘the human estate of grief and joy.’

This inevitably leads to the question: where can we find hope? My short answer: Don’t ask someone else where to find it. Create it through your actions. hope is not something we find, but is something we earn. No one has the right to be hopeful until they expend energy to make hope possible.

If people demand that intellectuals provide hope—or, worse, if intellectuals believe it is their job to give people hope—then offering platitudes about hope is just another way of avoiding the difficult questions. Clamoring for hope can be a dangerous diversion. But if the discussion of hope leads to action, even in the face of situations that may be hopeless, then we can hold onto what Albert Camus called a ‘stubborn hope.’

I would call this a hope beyond hope, the willingness not only to embrace that danger but to find joy in it. The systems that structure our world have done more damage than we can understand, but no matter how dark the world grows, there’s  light within.

—Robert Jensen
We Are All Apocalyptic Now

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The rational gives us knowledge {and} wonder gives us wisdom.

— Matthew Fox
Meister Eckhart. A Mystic Warrior for Our Times

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Mental ecology, also called deep ecology, seeks to awaken our ability to listen. The entire universe and each being, as tiny as it might be, are filled with history. They can tell their story and deliver their message that speaks of the grandeur and majesty of creation. The mission of the human being, man and woman, is to decipher this message and be able to celebrate it. Mental ecology or deep ecology seeks to nourish those psychic energies that enhance the covenant of kinship between the human being and the universe. It arouses the shaman hidden inside each person. Like any shaman, each individual can enter into dialogue with the energies at work in the building of the cosmos over fifteen billion years, energies that manifest themselves in us in the form of intuitions, dreams, and visions, and by enchantment over nature.

Without a spiritual revolution it will be impossible to launch a new paradigm of connectedness. The new covenant finds its roots and the site where it is verified in the depth of the human mind. That is where the lost link that reconstitutes the chain of beings and the vast cosmic community begins to be refashioned. This link in the chain is anchored in the sacred and in God, alpha and omega of the principle of the self-organization of the universe. This is where all sense of connectedness is fostered and this is the permanent basis for the dignity of Earth.

—Leonardo Boff
Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor