Practice of the Week
Falling in Love
Falling in Love
Category: Ecospiritual. These practices are oriented toward developing our spirituality through our connection with our planet home and our responsibility to care for it.
adapted from Rebecca James Hecking, The Sustainable Soul
The path of creation is joyful. Instead of dwelling on and being paralyzed by all the negativity of the world, we decide to create the type of world in which we want to live. This is a sacred place, where we walk on holy ground with every step and form deep and lasting relationships and communities where diversity is honored and uniqueness is respected, and where the Earth itself is healed and restored.Probably many of us shake our heads at the impossibility of it all, and understandably so. All of us at some point have felt some despair at the state of things. It’s true that there are great forces at work, but just how they will affect us remains to be seen.
There is no doubt that we are in the midst of planetary change. We have surpassed the limits of Earth’s ability to regenerate its life-support systems. The climate is changing. Energy sources that fueled the Industrial Revolution may not last much longer. We are in the midst of a major transition, and the future doesn’t seem as clearly predictable as it once did. In the end, a “corrective” to our excesses is bound to occur, one way or another. The question is how to get there.
The chances of a positive short- and long-term future are far greater if we begin creating it now. If we start making the changes we want to see – cultivating reverence and awe for the Earth and allowing that reverence to form the foundation for our way of being – we are on the way to recreating the Earth. Thoreau understood this when he wrote in On Man & Nature:
“When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most interminable, and to the citizen, most dismal swamp. I enter the swamp as a sacred place – a sanctum sanctorum. There is the strength, the marrow of nature.”This is the kind of strength that will sustain us through the necessary losses and changes to come.
Insects that undergo metamorphosis from a larva to their adult form enter a cocoon, where they are transformed. In the cocoon, the larva begins to dissolve. The old form collapses, and the new winged insect begins to form. The process is directed by so-called imaginal cells. These cells facilitate the transformation in ways that scientists are only beginning to understand. Our culture and our world are entering the cocoon. Change is upon us. Old ways are dissolving. Those who embark on the path of creation are the imaginal cells of this global process. We must envision the new, and midwife it into being through our dreams and our hard work. There is no other way.
The joyful part comes into play when we see just how much we love this exquisite, blue-green jewel that is our home. We are creatures of this place. We are the consciousness of Gaia, now able to realize this fact, truly understand it, and act upon it in ways that previous generations could not. We are the beloved children, the prodigal sons and daughters of our planet, who now understand the need to come. We are the beloved children now growing up, who realize that excess is unsustainable, greed is unacceptable, responsibility is a necessity, and our adulthood as a species is upon us. As mature beings now, we have fallen in love: utterly, madly, and gloriously in love with this place, this Earth and all who live upon it, human and nonhuman. We are head over heels for this sublime and unimaginable state of being. We are in love with Life, not our own small lives, but Life with a capital L. The Universe and All That Is. Life.
1. Ceremoney of Closure. Just as at the beginning, create a small personal ritual to mark the journey you have taken. Through words or actions, symbolize the Path of Awakening, the Path of Un-Learning, the Path of Discovery, and the Path of Creation. Incorporate elements of previous exercises, or create something entirely new.
2. Journal Closure. Even if you plan to write more in your journal later, spend some time re-reading what you have written and reflect on your experience of working through the previous practices. Which ones resonated strongly with you? Did you feel drawn to any particular ideas? What made you uncomfortable? Why?
3. Beloved Earth. Go you your favorite outdoor place. Bring a gift of thanks and leave it somewhere nearby in an inconspicuous place where it is unlikely to be disturbed by people. Your gift can be a small token that symbolizes your gratitude and appreciation for the Earth – something natural, not synthetic. Possibilities include: flowers, birdseed, bread, a seashell, a stone, water, honey, a lock of your hair, dried herbs, an object of unfinished wood. It should blend in with the land. Offer your gift, and spend some time pondering what it means to love the Earth.
Celebration of Life. Decorate your group altar with symbols of your love for the Earth and all its creatures. Share poetry, stories, and songs. Eat a meal together. Reflect on your experiences as a group, and share memories. Gather in circle, hold hands, and reflect on what it means to love the Earth. You might brainstorm future actions. Honor your group’s unique vision for the world and yourselves as participants in it.
Questions for Group Conversation:
- Have you ever had an experience that caused you to feel a sense of love for the natural world? What was it?
- What does loving the Earth mean to you? What might it mean in a broader cultural context?
- Do you think a better future is possible? If so, how can we get there? If not, why not?
- What now? Where do you go from here?