Great Morning Beloved!
THE SPIRITUALITY OF EARTH
Last Monday was Earth Day…50 years ago, on April 22, 1970, CBS News marked the first ever Earth Day with a special report anchored by Walter Cronkite. Cronkite said at the time, “The gravity of the message of Earth Day came through: act or die.”
Things haven’t changed much, in fact, many would say they have gotten worse.
It’s simple, we need to take care of the Earth. This planet is a macrocosm of our microcosm. What is happening to the Earth we could say, is happening to humanity…And vice versa.
Some of us are having issues with soul awareness. By that I mean, what direction are we going? What kind of a person do we wish to present to the world? What is my purpose?
We’ve all had those ‘choice points’ in our lives. And we will continue to have them, they are all part of our growth opportunities.
And some of these choice points take us in directions that we are not necessarily meant to go…think for a minute…go on…. those times when you made a choice and later discovered it wasn’t the best for ANY concerned! Much less yourself.
But we have all, also, made wonderful choices too. We have done a lot of self-discovery work. We’ve been working on forgiveness. We are trying to be the best expression of God as we possibly can, and we continue to improve that too.
So, what does all this have to do with the Earth? That’s obvious, in one way and maybe not so in another.
Remember that any self-growth, self-awareness that we do also improves the whole of humanity. So, all your work is helping to pull the energy of others up also. As you grow and become an even better YOU, others feel that energy and just maybe, say, I’m going there too!
But what else happens? As we get more aware of the connectiveness of everyone and everything, we want to do more to help everyone and everything.
That is where Earth Day and Arbor Day and any other day where you direct your energy, your thoughts, your forward thinking to improving our Mother Earth, because if we don’t have our Mother, where will be we. Probably underground trying to live life without real food, real dogs and cats and any other animal that we have now…but are losing at the alarming rate of about 27,000 species a year according to the National Wildlife Federation. “Every day, an estimated 100 plant and animal species are lost to deforestation.”
Within the next 30 years as many as half of the species on the earth could die in one of the fastest mass extinctions in the planet’s 4.5 billion year history. That also includes the loss of the genetic diversity within species, as well as the loss of diversity of different types of ecosystems, which can contribute to or hasten whole species extinction.
Kind of reminds you of the canary in the coal mines….
Can you think of why this is important to us as a species?
Well, one thing that is on my mind is, cures for diseases. I am a believer. I believe everything we need is here for us to find. And to use, not exploit!
Many believe that there are around 1,400 forest plants that can cure many cancers, and some forest plants can even cure the deadliest of diseases.
Yet the Rain Forest where these plants are growing is being deforested for agriculture, mostly animal farming. So, every day, we may be losing our chance at a cure for many of the cancers that plague our people for a steak or some ribs.
I know, I know, I like a good steak now and then too, but what is ours to do regarding the care of the Earth? We all must ask ourselves that question.
For many years we have neglected the care of the Earth. We have come a long way in our view of her. There are some cultures, like Native Americans who have always seen the Earth as spiritual and deserving reverence. The rest of us are slowly catching up.
There are religions that are called Pantheistic … that believe that God is found in nature. Unity is Panenthistic…. which means that we believe that God is in nature …. and God is also greater than and outside of nature as well.
God is everywhere.
“There is a wonderful story about the child of a rabbi who used to wander in the woods. At first his father let him wander, but over time he became concerned. The woods were dangerous. The father did not know what lurked there.
He decided to discuss the matter with his child. One day he took him aside and said, ‘You know, I have noticed that each day you walk into the woods. I wonder, why do you go there?’ The boy said to his father, ‘I go there to find God.’ ‘That is a very good thing,’ the father replied gently., ‘I am glad you are searching for God. But, my child, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?’ ‘Yes,’ the boy answered, ‘but I’m not.’
God is not any more present in any one place … God is the same everywhere. But sometimes we are not…. and so, we seek out places…. away from it all where we can feel and experience God’s presence more fully.
According to the psalmist … places affect us. God’s green pastures and still waters restore the soul. The Chinese have long observed that an individual’s well-being is influenced by location and have devised a system called Fung Shui of reading energy or chi of places to find beneficial positions for buildings and rooms.
Even as far back as biblical times certain kinds of earthly places have had spiritual meanings attached to them. Metaphysically places in the Bible represent states of consciousness. Jesus went into the desert to pray, the Desert Fathers lived in seclusion in the desert… Muhammad received his commission in a desert cave. Metaphysically the DESERT represents a place of emptiness… or a consciousness of emptiness.
Emptiness = enlightenment
Terry Tempest Williams writes: “It’s strange how deserts turn us into believers. I believe in walking in a landscape of mirages, because you learn humility. I believe in living in a land of little water because life is drawn together. And I believe in the gathering of bones as a testament to spirits that have moved on. If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide, and so we are found.”
MOUNTAINS have been seen as holy because they represent a rising up of consciousness. Moses went up to the top of the mountain and was presented with the Ten Commandments. Jesus took two of his disciples up to the top of a mountain and they appeared transfigured ….as a light body.
Mountains instill in us a sense of awe and wonder. I remember seeing the Rockies the first time, how I needed to bend my head back and look up, and just being struck by how awesome it was …. I just stood there, could only say WOW, it was a profound feeling.
Oceans are still the most profound for me, thus my move here instead of Maryland. The ocean just brings with it a sense of calm…no matter how wicked the water looks.
Deserts, mountains, oceans …. they all give us a feeling of spirituality. It is easy to see and to feel the spiritual in them.
More and more we are seeing how we are linked and connected together. How something as small and simple as a butterfly flapping its wings in China can influence the weather in New York. We are interconnected and what happens in one place affects all places. And in fact, we cannot separate ourselves from the whole… because we contain it all.
Carl Jung said: “When you look inside yourself, you see the universe and all its stars in infinity … an infinite mystery within yourself as great as the one without.”
The mountain is within you …… that majesty that you feel when you look at the mountain ………the strength and power and awesomeness …. that isn’t just in the outer world … that is inside of you.
The expansiveness you feel when you look out on the ocean …… is within you ………infinity is within you. We are more than this person in this lifetime…we go on, as Dumbledore told Harry….
The beauty of the flowers and the trees are inside of us as well …. the music of the birds……. the aroma of the earth…. all are inside us. We are connected with that beauty and that melody ……
Any place can be a holy place … the place on which you stand right now …. your home …. your place of work …. any place on which you stand ……can be a profound and holy place and it all deserves respect and reverence.
We are evolving in consciousness, humankind is evolving, and the earth is evolving right along with us, because we are connected. As we evolve individually it affects the whole.
Some people think, “What can I do to change the world?” Well you can start by changing yourself, because when you change it affects everything around you.
Danaan Perry, who started Earthstewards, dedicated his life to raising the consciousness of healing the Earth. Here are his seven-fold path for peace.
1) When we are peace within our own heart, we shall be at peace with everyone and with our Mother Earth.
2) When we recognize that our planet itself is a living organism co-evolving with humankind, we shall become worthy of stewardship.
3) When we see ourselves as stewards of our planet and not as owners and masters of it, there shall be lasting satisfaction from our labors.
4) When we accept the concept of Right Livelihood as the basic right of all we shall have respect for one another.
5) When we respect the sacredness of all life, we shall be truly free.
6) When we free ourselves from our attachment to our ego-personalities we shall be able to experience our Oneness.
7) When we experience our Oneness—our total connectedness with all being, we shall be at peace within our hearts.
Creation calls to us to love it, to honor it and to protect our planet.
Most of us here, I would venture to guess, believe that climate change is real, and it will take much effort, great and small, to reverse course on our ever-warming planet. We all have a carbon footprint, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid plastic and waste. But making changes is possible and, in the long run, will help.
Here are some more ideas:
Avoid Takeout Containers
Say “no” to takeout food and bring your own containers for restaurant leftovers. Sure, no more takeout is starting big, and you might never eat pizza again. If you can’t say “no” to takeout, how about not having so much? Try only one takeout meal a week and find restaurants that pack up dinner in non-plastic, non-Styrofoam, eco-friendly containers. (Skip the plastic bag, too!)
Stop Using Plastic Bags
One easy way to go a little greener is to refuse bags. Have your reusable bags handy. If your city doesn’t have a plastic bag ban, talk to your local representative and see if you can get the city or county council to implement one.
Stop Using Paper Towels
Yes, they’re convenient. Yes, your family’s messy. But it’s easy to live without paper towels. Instead of these perforated one-use paper sheets, start using your dish towels (sure, even the nice ones) to wipe up messes. You can even use them to pat meat dry and clean mirrors and windows (just not at the same time). Toss them in the wash and reuse next week. Cut up old bath towels for extra-absorbent needs. If you want to get really crafty, add snaps onto a dozen or more washcloths and roll them up onto your old paper towel holder. (Also works with Velcro.)
Use Non-Plastic Reusable Water Bottles
If you’re one of those people with cabinets full of water bottles, make a commitment to stop accepting plastic. Just say “thank you,” and hand it back to the person working the registration table. Start using the reusable water bottles you have, recycling or passing along any that you know you won’t use or ones that leak.
Give Up the Straw
Yes, you have the right to drink from a straw. And yet, if you don’t need one in order to sip from a glass, stop using them. Just like that. Make sure when you order drinks at a restaurant to request no straw, then remind them when they arrive at the table. (It’s habit; they’re not being huffy by offering them.) Encourage your eating mates to do the same. It’s small. It saves our water families too. Or carry you own steel straw. Its reusable.
Use Green Cleaning Products
We Americans really go after our homes when we clean with products that strip grime, kill bacteria and leave everything smelling like bottled meadow. Cleaning products can be made of some toxic stuff and often yield the same results as quick cleaners you make yourself (minus the toxicity). Look into orange oil, castille soaps and all the things you can do with lemon and baking soda. Commit to not replacing your cleaning products with more bottle and sprays of stuff, and instead shifting to more earth-friendly strategies.
Eliminate Food Waste
The production of food is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the U.S. So, when you’re throwing out food, you’ve warmed the planet for nothing. Make a choice that you’re no longer going to throw out food and, instead, shop smarter, offer and take smaller portions at meals (allowing for seconds, of course), and find ways to incorporate leftovers into lunches or other meals. Shopping more often and organizing the refrigerator can help cut back on waste as well. This takes practice but can become habit.
Another way to take the guilt from (and reduce the environmental damage of) food waste is to start a compost. If you find that you often have wilting lettuce and rotting kale in the fridge, tossing it in a compost bucket or worm farm is a great way to return it to the Earth rather than putting it in a landfill.
Buy Local Produce or Start a Garden
Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can start a garden on a windowsill, deck or sunny corner in the living room. Gardening reduces, one tomato at a time, the carbon emissions on your daily salads. While you’re waiting for your Earth Day garden to produce, you could also commit to shopping from local farmers, either at a farmer’s market or a grocery store that carries locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Small appliances, houseware, furniture, and clothes and shoes are cheap enough that there’s little financial incentive to repair them when they break. Instead, most of us just replace them with new ones. But fixing is possible, even if you’re not an electrician or super great with a needle and thread. Shoe- and leather-repair places still exist in most cities, and YouTube has videos on how to fix almost anything. You’ll not only keep things out of the landfill, you also won’t be purchasing something that’s made from tons of plastic, has been shipped halfway across the world, then trucked all the way across the country. Plus, it’s fun.
Stop most of the unsolicited mail that shows up in your mailbox. Even if you recycle all your junk mail, not having it created on your behalf in the first place has the better environmental impact.
Turn Things Off
Being vigilant about turning the lights off in an empty room is great. But what about all the appliances and electronic goods that, even when not in use, drain electricity. Phantom power use is a big waste of electricity, money and natural resources.
Eat Less Meat
This year go vegetarian or vegan, even for just the day. Even if you’re a meat-and-two-sides kind of family, there are ways to abstain from meat and animal products, if only for one day a week (think: Meatless Mondays). There are plenty of ideas for weeknight vegan and vegetarian meals. The way meat is produced in most of the world — no longer on small farms — has taken a toll on the Earth’s health and climate. In fact, meat production is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases on the planet.
Recycle (and Stop Buying So Many) Electronics
We live in an age where even our $1,000 phones are basically disposable. We expect them to be out of date in fewer than five or 10 years. Lower-cost ones are even easier (and more common) to get rid of, rather than resell, refurbish or live without new and better features. Recycling electronic goods, called e-waste, is important. Precious metals are stripped and reused, and plastic casings are melted and converted into something else. Even better is to commit to not succumbing to the siren song of upgrades and new gear. Sure, we’re in a home computer and smartphone world. But do you really need a tablet? Or would a single tablet cover your needs and mean you don’t also need a smartphone and computer. Isn’t one videogame console enough? And what about all those handheld toys going unplayed in your kids’ closets?
Clothes and fast fashion are also destroying the planet. Fabrics contain petroleum products. The carbon cost to make and ship them is steep, even if the price tags are low. Retail therapy can still be a guilty pleasure, but shopping used means you’re not making the planet pay the steep price. Secondhand stores are filled with barely worn clothing, brand-new home goods and other things you’re tempted to get at big box stores. Make Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul your first stop when you think you need something. Save the big box stores for times when you can’t find gently used items.
Refuse (Then Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)
We are given so many things throughout a single day that we haven’t even asked for. Straws with our drinks, napkins in a bag, packages surrounding one serving of a fruit or vegetable, packets, tote bags, flyers, stickers, free keychains, armbands and more. It seems rude to refuse and, when you do, you’re often met with confused looks and “Are you sure? It’s free!” But not taking something, no matter how small, is the first step in turning around modern lives of excess and planet destruction. Next is finding ways to reduce packaging on necessities, which might mean shopping in bulk food stores, especially ones that let you bring your own container. Recycling is great, of course, and we’re lucky to have the option (though it’s unclear how long that is going to last). But refusing: That gets down to the root of it.
Tell Grandparents: ‘No More Toys’
It seems rude and unthinkable, but we might be at a point where we need to tell grandparents (and other well-wishers), “No more toys.” Before kids are even born, they have a carbon footprint, with all the gifts and equipment and supposedly necessary things you need to raise a baby. By the time they’re toddlers, they’re surrounded in chaos by so many plastic toys, or even cloth and wooden things, that they don’t ever really play with them
Sure, individual actions are important, but policy changes could go a long way to support (and incentivize others) to go green, reach out to your city council about cleaner air, a plastic bag ban or how to create a more walkable neighborhood or downtown in your area. Tell your representative in your state legislature that you want your state to commit to reducing carbon emissions as agreed upon in international agreements, such as the Paris Accord. And nationally, pressure your senators to approve executive cabinet appointments of only those whose interests truly benefit the environment. Elect leaders who understand that climate change is real. And if there are none of them to vote for, run for office yourself.
You know all this. We all, just need to put it, at least some of it, into practice. Let’s start with implementing a new program from Big Unity…UnityVeg.
We can take a small step and work our way into healthier eating and help the Earth in that small way. You all know we at Unity are doing many things to reduce our Carbon Footprint…recycling, using cleaning products that are environmentally friendly, buying recycled paper products and copy paper, recycling our ink cartridges…and now let’s give a try to healthier food options for our Fellowship time. Fruits, veggies, baked goods with a healthy twist. We can do this. Starting next week, lets all try to do our part here at Unity.
And with that, let’s meditate on all we have learned today.