The Urgency and The Promise

Tears slide down my cheeks this morning as my body absorbs the enormity of what my eyes see. Short and tall, spindly and plump, young and old, cedars are dead. DEAD. Like a cancer patient losing his hair, bald cedars are everywhere I look in this small patch of rain foresty forest in the Pacific North West of the continental United States of America.

I walk in this small forest almost every day and it’s been less than a year since the cedars began dropping like flies, like bees, like birds, like microbes, like fungi, like panda bears, like tigers and sea turtles and slugs and butterflies and penquins and seals and ice.

Oh the loss of ice weighs heavily on my heart. I lived in Montana for thirty years and grew to know Glacier National Park fairly well. When we moved there in 1980 there may have been as many as 70 glaciers and now there are 7.  ( I can’t find the actual numbers quickly enough to be confident it was 70 and 7 but the idea is accurate. ) It is estimated that those few will all be gone in a decade.

 

Our planet is dying and I witness it daily. My heart breaks open wider and wider and the tears tumble readily for the innocence and ignorance of modern, urban humans who keep living as if we have endless tomorrows.

WE HUMANS KNOW NOT WHAT WE DO! That’s a line in my book, Ode To Gaia: Calling Forth our Imaginal Selves, as well as the title of a new, sensitive and beautiful movie which can be found on Netflix. Please check on both of them.

“Our Planet Is Just as Alive as We Are.”  Whoop whoop… At last the truth is OUT!  I’ve known it since childhood. Bet you have too! You may have forgotten as an adult but your bones remember, your organs and sinews and cells remember. Main stream media, the New York Times, has finally announced this truth a few weeks ago as the headline for an article by Ferris Jabr . “We and all living creatures are not just inhabitants of Earth, we are Earth – an outgrowth of its physical structure and an engine of its global cycles…” writes Jabr. He quotes biologist Lynn Margulis: …”Earth’s surface has been alive for at least 3,000 million years.”

Those 3,000 millions of years of life are puny numbers compared to the billions that preceded it as our globe went through endless iterations of  its rocky fiery being-ness.  We humans are babies in the big scheme of living species, only been around 200,000 thousand years or so, a proverbial eyeblink of time.

These simple truths should make us humans fall to our knees with gratitude, humility and awe. And a desire to listen, to listen and observe and learn from the land on which we live.

Only six miles – maybe seven – of atmosphere protects us from the endlessly- everexpanding ( not all scientists agree on expansion ) –atmosphereless- infinitevastness of the universe. That’s a very thin layer of protection, less than a ten minute drive on an interstate in Montana.

Think about the enormity of that fact.

Let it go deep inside you, beyond your intellect to land in the belly where wisdom resides, to find a home in the heart where compassion thrives.

Acknowledge the miracle of our planetary home and everything changes.

Here I’m paraphrasing Jabr: Earth births zillions of organisms that ceaselessly devour, transfigure and replenish its air, water and rock …those creatures and their physical environments evolve in tandem, so shouldn’t we think of our planet as alive?
Humans are the brain – the consciousness of the planet. We are Earth made aware of itself…(and) only we can choose to help keep Earth alive.

Only we can choose to help keep Earth ALIVE…powerful words for me and relate to the new year long program that Kathryn Lafond and I have just begun.

Called Choice PointFalling in Love with Belonging to Earth, we will build community as we explore personal, transformative possibilities and consider how we can contribute to our culture’s evolution. You can actually read more about it on this blog by perusing the most recent previous posts. Easy peasy…Contact me if you’d like to know more: deborahmltn@gmail.com.

 

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About Deborah

Deborah Jane Milton, Ph.D. is an artist, mentor, and eco-psychologist, mother of four and grandmother of eight.
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