And one tree at a time

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendell Berry

It is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this week. What can I do to cherish and foster this beautiful blue planet?

Adding to my concern is Paul Hawken’s commencement address to the Class of 2009 at the University of Portland:

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million mph, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.”

Then there is the miracle of life. Apparently, the odds of us being here is equivalent to 2.5 million people throwing a 1 trillion sided dice and all of them falling on the same side! Those are the odds of us being here. It is really a miracle.

Can you feel your feet on the ground? Pause for a moment. Feel your body – seated, standing or lying down. The stability in which you feel secure in this moment. In the meantime: the earth is rotating at a speed of 1037 mph and travelling around the Sun at 67,000 mph – while our solar system – earth and all – whirls around the centre of our galaxy at an average speed of 448,000 mph. But don’t plan on catching a glimpse of the other side of the Milky Way, as even at this rapid speed, the solar system would take about 230 million years to travel all the way around the galaxy.

Through this all, mother earth keep us grounded through the miracle of gravity.

While I was lost in the vastness and magnificence of the heavens, the great poet Mary Oliver challenges me:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?”

In order to experience this miracle, I have to care for the earth as well as my body which sustains this precious yet brief life. Who is in charge of my body? Who is in charge of my moments?

“What you are seeking is also seeking you”. Thank you Rumi.

To live more deeply now. Now is truly all we have. We can choose to live more consciously.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course, we would be ecstatic, delirious… Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch TV.

In this extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other as we go through the current crisis. You and I and every other being is as complex and beautiful as the stars and the universe. I don’t want to be distracted and lose sight of the fact that life and every moment of my existence is a miracle.

Nature beckons me to be on her side. Is there anything I might do differently in order to avoid harm, maybe more intentional reuse and recycling? Am I contributing in anyway harm to the non-human animals directly or indirectly?

These challenging times are apt to shift from the control tower in my head to move down to below the neck. I want take up residence in the body more often. Simple awareness of the body tends to relax it by itself. Mindfulness of the body gives the clues when we begin to get stressed. The body can help us to be alert when we begin to feel overwhelmed – whether it is from listening to the news or by thinking about the state of the world. We might feel a tightness in the belly or chest, or the shoulders going up, as the agitation builds up. It might be skillful to pause and feel grounded in the body. The news is constant leading from one story to the next.

I have to be disciplined to stop the activity that I am engaged in, and learn to listen to these early warnings in the body. Move the body right away – a set of kettle bell swings or squats or yogic breathing. Regular walks in the nature or dance or do yoga in order to release the tension that is built up.


The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?