Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Yesterday Jews around the world got up at dawn to recite the Birkat HaHamma, a Blessing for the Sun, a prayer of gratitude to the God that created, well, everything. It happens every 28 years when the sun returns to the point in the sky where, according to the Talmud, God placed it at the moment of creation. As the first rays of sun appear on the horizon, they pray:

Blessed are You, Adonai, our God and God of all the universe, who makes all things in creation.

This year was especially meaningful as the day ended with the beginning of Passover.

We have forgotten the sacredness of these natural cycles; we have forgotten how to pray the Earth. Every religious tradition has at its roots a worship of the presence of the sacred within the unfolding of creation and all its dynamisms — the sun and the moon (oh, did you see that full moon last night!?!?!), the winds and tides, the changing seasons, the four directions, the heavens and the Earth, the planting and the harvests. That we have forgotten these roots is not a sign of our advanced intellect, or the triumph of the rational mind, of science and modernity, over primitive being, but rather a sign of our spiritual impoverishment and false alienation from our true nature — as beings embedded within the Earth and cosmos.

In the pale beauty of the moon’s glow across the early evening sky as it rose from the east, in the western sky Orion was setting, the dog star Sirius following close behind, herald of the emerging spring, a last thrilling dance in the night as it slowly disappears from view, a constellation of the daylight hours from now until August when it will again rise in the eastern sky.

Do we pray these things? Why in the world would God make this creation of such magnificence and beauty if it was not to be observed and honored, to fill us with awe and delight, to get us up in the early morning to address the dawn, “Blessed are You, Adonai, God of all the universe!”

Whether or not one believes in a God who made the world, or sees the evolution of the cosmos as an expression of a Presence within all that is, not apart or separate from it, or does not believe in God at all but sees the cosmos itself as enough to incite reverence and awe — the problem comes when one experiences none of these things, does not SEE creation and does not care, or, worse, looks upon creation as something at the service of the human — as our western traditions so often do…

…because that alienation invites the abuse of creation which we see all around us, along with the results of the abuse in our poor, battered, depleted planet.

Today I read that John Holdren, Prez Obama’s science advisor and a brilliant scientist on climate and other things, is considering shooting cooling pollutants into the atmosphere in a desperate attempt to stop runaway global warming.

And I am stricken again by another sign of all that is wrong with us — we would rather further alter the chemical makeup of the atmosphere (geoengineering, a term that fills me with dread) in a grand experiment whose results we cannot possibly know beforehand, than do the hard work of reorganizing how we live on the planet. We would rather get the economy we know going again, with the same basic patterns of planetary abuse, using engineering to continue undoing the planet’s ecosystems (as we have the rivers and ocean shores and wetlands and soils and genetically altered plants and animals) then do the hard and holy work of learning how to live within the balance and limits of the ecosystems that made all this vibrant life — and us — possible.

So, again, it’s spring. It is a sacred time in the spiritual lives of human beings across the planet. It is a time for renewal and rebirth in that beautiful cycle of life in which we are privileged to participate. However you honor your religious traditions, or if you have none to honor, honor this blessed creation. Reinvigorate within your spirits a sense of your intimate connections with all that is — feel the sense of creation’s energies within your own being, but also all that is being destroyed by our human hubris — because we cannot separate ourselves from that either. As we are aspects of the creation story, both are happening to us.

We can lose the beauty, we really can. It is happening. If we can restore the intimacy of our connections with the natural world, we just might find the passion to save that world before it is altered beyond recognition, beyond that which has for millennia inspired worship and poetry and all that is best in the human spirit.

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