eco crisis

This morning, I am asked to allow my mind to explore the depth and breadth of the degradation of Mother Earth, to allow myself to linger in the places that cause me pain or discomfort… in other words, I suppose, to allow myself to feel.

Images from the David Attenborough documentary, A Life on our Planet, flash across the screen of my mind. Thoughts of my grandchildren’s lives being played out in some bizarre disconnected reality, where relationship to the Earth is severed, where everything is manufactured and nothing is nurtured, fill my heart with an overwhelming despair, for which I am unprepared.

My head questions my heart here, asks if this is mere sentimentality, some romantic longing for what was, a symptom of one who is aging and struggling to accept the changes to life on earth, which feel so alien, but which are both here and now and coming.

But this is grief, I feel. Profound heartbreak at the loss of something terribly beloved, something deeply valued and inherently sacred. I wonder, though, will my great-granddaughters realize this as grief? Will they even feel the absence as loss? What will that world look like? Where will they find Beauty in a manufactured world with artificial nurture and virtual experiences?

Am I called to trust in Love here too, or this that merely a cop out? Can I trust in this evolutionary process of Consciousness Becoming, have faith in this Great Loving Source of All Being, which is indwelling and unfolding and inspiring, when It doesn’t look anything like the Life on Earth –enfleshed and organic– that I have come to know and to love (and perceive as essential)? Can I embrace the artificial, the technological, the engineered world as Beloved, as Beauty?

As You?

These are the things I ask You, Love, this morning. What is Your call here for me? What is my response to be?

I remember once reading that those who have been deeply invested in environmental activism have realized that their work now is grief work—complete with all the stages inherent in that work. Having passed through denial, blame, anger, and bargaining, they are now in the process of letting go. Having moved on to acceptance that the world is dying, they are practicing witness bearing. How terribly bleak is that?

How to hold on to Love – Her Presence and Her Action—in the midst of an existential loss such as this. This is perhaps the work I am called to do, though part of me—well, if I am honest almost the whole of me in this moment—resists this mightily , wants to cling to Her, fall upon the body of our dying Mother, gather the disintegrating flesh into my arms. Though She feels like dust between my fingers, I feel myself desperate to pull Her back together, breath life again into Her formlessness, rent my garments, keen all day.

Perhaps this is the image I need follow as my heart’s calling, then? This fierce Love for the You within this Beloved place? Is this heart grief then You beseeching me to conspire with You in an act of resurrection?

This is a stark landscape. A Good Friday despair. I’m not at all certain I want to visit this place today.

Perhaps my imagination is too small. Perhaps I make too much import of our tiny planet –its diverse beings, amazing manifestations, extravagant beauty. Perhaps we humans are no more meaningful or vital to the evolution of Love than were the Dinosaurs… or that Super Nova that just exhaled its last breath. Perhaps this is merely the self-important, anthropocentric ego that is dying — and perhaps that is, after all, what is needed, for the hubris of humankind to be brought low.

But Mary, Mother of God, what of the innocents?

Are we not all innocents?

Tragedy is hard to reconcile in the human heart. We long for redemption. We yearn to find Beauty within it, as the concentration camp victim who bore witness to the Jasmine bloom, or the Iraq war reporter who bore witness to the slaughter of children. Being struck powerless like this, perhaps, yields no other choice but surrender to the terrible beauty of it all, to let your heart be broken open in order to somehow hold it.

Can I find You here, in this apocalyptic vision, Trust in Your Light and Your Love as I say that I do? Let go my own agenda about what is Good and Right?

This is indeed a terrifying place for me, this image. Can I also embrace that this is perhaps just that- an image that stems from my own lack of image-ination, based in what is actually a fragile faith in something Other Than Love, Other Than the Wisdom of the Universe — that is, humanity. Or, perhaps, on the other hand, I have not enough faith in humanity, its goodness and wisdom, its ability to transform itself. Perhaps this is a symptom of the true smallness of my own humanity, this lack of imagination, this fear of what I (and many others) can only perceive from this vantage as death and destruction. Am I telling a story, then, that will not come true, as so many apocalyptic prophets throughout the ages have, with the certainty of their age, foretold?

Dear grandchild of mine, if you are reading this, I trust we have made it through and that some part of you is smiling inwardly at my naïve fear of the planet’s demise, that the earth, or at least humanity, has found a way. I pray that it is with our relationship intact and reciprocity restored.  This is perhaps my selfish desire for you, as my love for the Earth has meant so much to me that I want that for you, too.  For your existence to be disjointed from relationship to the Earth feels like a life impoverished of soul. Yet, I believe this deep desire for the Earth to survive is an unselfish hope at the same time, as my Love for the Earth with its vast array of self-expressions (so very many of which are already lost) and inherent worth, longs for it to survive for Its sake alone.

What does this Earth look like for you? What does your life look like? Where do you find Beauty? Wholeness? Belonging? Where do you experience the Wonder of Being a part of Something Vaster than yourself? Tell me now, my child. I trust that I can hear you, somehow.

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