Why, it was wonderful!
Why, all at once there were leaves,
Leaves at the end of a dry stick, small, alive
Leaves out of wood. It was wonderful,
You can’t imagine. They came by the wood path
And the earth loosened, the earth relaxed, there were flowers
Out of the earth!
Think of it!
Oozing new green at the tips of them and flowers
Squeezed out of clay, soft flowers, limp
Stalks flowering. Well, it was like a dream,
It happened so quickly, all of a sudden it happened
In reflection I lean into those words of poet Archibald MacLeish, and I wonder in a changing world what does it look like to renew? For lifetimes, Earth has given the promise of annual renewal and spring continues to set down her pink blossoms. Renewal is a covenant with Earth that many take for granted. Yet her message to us is ever steadfast in it’s promise. Her saving message to us is, “spring will come again.” And I ask myself what is our saving message to Earth?
I write today of saving not through the lens of theology, but instead before the altar of our collective experience. See, Earth says “all are welcome here. Even you, even I.” While some of us are atheist, others Jews, a few are Christian and aspire to act as Christians should, we are the Buddhists, the Muslims, the Pagans, and more. Some of us are other and yet even more are nothing. In the collective community of our most sacred self what unites us is Earth’s saving message of renewal. The crop will come again. The tides will bring fish. The trees will purify the air. The skies will wash clean with rain. However slowly Earth’s great renewal is changing. Instead we see poverty where once there was plenty; drought and famine or flood and fire. Yet I can not help but wonder if this is still Earth’s saving message? I wonder, have we taken too much fruit from the tree, and as such is Earth finally saying ‘no more”?
I can not believe however that this is the case. That the Earth is rejecting us, even if humankind has reaped from her more than the trees can possibly give. I say this because for me, Earth is Mother. As an Ecstatic Monist, I see Earth as a transcendent facet of the Great Goddess in whom we live, move, and have being. She is the reflection of the divinity that dwells within each of us.
Pagan environmentalist Starhawk writes, “Alone, awesome, complete within Herself, the Goddess, She whose name cannot be spoken, floated in the abyss of the outer darkness, before the beginning of all things. As She looked into the curved mirror of black space, She saw by her own light her radiant reflection, and fell in love with it. She drew it forth by the power that was in Her and made love to Herself, and called Her “Miria, the Wonderful.”
This is the beginning of a creation story that for many Pagans populate a common collective that asks, “Where did I come from?” When I think of Goddess, “alone and awesome perfectly complete within Herself” I think of Earth, perfectly complete in herself; ever generative, every loving, every renewing. The mother who keeps covenant with her children. Earth as the immanent and transcendent manifestation of the divine nurturer. I can physically touch the Earth, and feel Her magic. For centuries cultures have lifted up Earth as central in deity manifestation. We see Her being prayed to and being invoked, as being the “Mother of Life” and the mother of all living things in Her dominion. Various peoples, longing to return to Her, to Her embrace, and bury their bodies within Her tying their souls with Her. With such a focus on giving life and providing for us, no wonder that across many cultures, fertility deities and Goddesses share a deep affinity with the Earth. They are the divine nurturer, answering the prayers of their offspring.
Philosopher Mircea Eliade compared Earth to the mother on a symbolic level. He says, “Just like the mother, Earth is the first object of attachment that is encountered in the objective world. Earth holds us like a mother, it nurtures us like a mother does, providing food, chemicals, wood, and answering our every need in a seemingly omnipotent way, akin to the vision an infant has of its all-powerful mother until it has grown enough to fend for itself.”
We are now at a crossroads as seekers. As people of faith, regardless of praxis, the Earth has no litmus test for belief entry. She is all loving, all nurturing. Our saving message to her, now more than ever is love. As fires blaze and waters wise, Earth calls out to us all. If we listen with an open mind and loving heart, she cries out and says love me. She who is Mother to us all, wants to be seen by Her children. Archibald MacLeish invites us to experience Earth as wonderful. The magic of renewal. “wonderful, leaves at the end of a dry stick.” This moment of creation happens so quickly he notes, “all of a sudden.” Renewal is Earth’s saving message.
As I lean into the invitation of Earth’s promise to renew, there is a certainty that now is the hour to commit to Earth with a saving message. I choose to enter covenant with Earth as Mother Goddess and nurture her as the life giver. I choose to open myself to what is known to me in a sea of changes. What I know is that the great womb of our collective human experience is compassion and love. Earth is Goddess, Earth is Love. Love my saving message to Earth. Some might consider that to be unrealistic, others that it does not ignite the passion of radical activism. However, I believe that if we return to Earth with love, that love will transform us. Love will hold us accountable to be better than the past, and aspire greatness into the future.
Starhawk’s creation story ends, “All began in love; all seeks to return to love. Love is the law, the teacher or wisdom, and the great revealer of mysteries.”
Let us return to Love, let us return Love to Earth.