Earth Day, 2012

As we learn more and more about our world, Earth Day becomes increasingly a day to venerate, and yet is now increasingly ignored or turned into a day for corporations to hawk faux-green crap.

I think only spiritualities of sacred immanence are capable of doing earth justice, and I think that we, as Pagans, have a responsibility to act and speak in defense of this planet that has blessed us into existence.  If anyone can it is we who can argue for and sometimes introduce others to a direct experience of the sacrality of the earth.  Only then can we really appreciate the deep truth in Leopold's observation in his marvelous A Sand County Almanac:

This song of the waters is audible to every ear, but there is other music in these hills, by no means audible to all... On a still night, when the campfire is low and the Pleiades have climbed over rimrocks, sit quietly and listen...and think hard of everything you have seen and tried to understand. Then you may hear it - a vast pulsing harmony - its score inscribed on a thousand hills, its notes the lives and deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries.

Another man whose spirit was as open as Leopold's to what our world is expressed another dimension of this truth, for no single account can encompass what is ultimately beyond words.  Robinson Jeffers wrote:

To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things-earth, stone and water,
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars-
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality-
For man's half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant-to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.

This planet and life will long outlast us. If the greed of the Kochs and EXXON and the blindess and venality of their paid lackies, political and intellectual, triumphs the earth may become very inhospitable to us, sending billions to where it sent the dinosaurs.  But life will continue.  We are not "Life's Saviors."  That fantasy is just another human ego trip.  Life is tougher than we are.  But we can assist or destroy the communities of life that brought us forth, and surround us with beauty and meaning.

We can accomplish this if we realize, as Aldo Leopold put it in his Almanac, that we are just "plain citizens" of life on earth, and it is time we began acting like such.  Far from being anti-human, we need only enlarge that part of us which may be most unique, our hearts, to embrace what he terms a "land ethic."

Such an ethic...

"...simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.

    "This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these 'resources,' but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state."

Can we live our lives as if this ethic mattered?  That may be a crucial test of the ability of our path to shape our steps.

4/21/2012 4:00:00 AM