It’s a strange predicament. To be here on this planet in these soft, complex bodies. Yet half the time we are hardly here at all.
Most of the plans our culture makes for us do not involve our bodies or hearts. And the non-human beings around us are just a backdrop, or at best, supporting characters.
We are taught to stay in our heads, in the realm of abstract concepts and facts. This goes back at least as far as the Greek philosophers who posited the idea that humans are separate from nature. The modern version of this story enshrines a quite specific set of values: achievement, materialism, scientism and progress. None have much to do with nature or the deeper layers of our souls.
But if we are curious and willing to endure some ridicule, there is another way. This typically involves some kind of otherworldly deliverance. Human spiritual expression is amazingly diverse, yet western culture seems to have a preference for transcendence. Both traditional religion and new age paths urge us in that direction. The promised land, nirvana, the rapture, heaven and ascension speak of some other reality where we are not, which is somehow more important than where we are.
Both of these stories of what life’s about devalue nature and our own moment-to-moment aliveness. That doesn’t feel right to me. I want another option.
So I’m sitting here holding a willow branch sketching out other possibilities in the red dirt just east of the divide. They have something to do with settling down on this earth and remembering that we belong here. About the fullness of life, here and now. The reintegration of mind, body, and spirit and the recovery of our true nature in nature. We are on a Journey that has been unfolding for 14 billion years. May we become conscious and grateful and take off our shoes.
Thomas Berry said all this much better than I could when he taught that the earth is “a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” He made up the word “inscendence” to describe a way of belonging to reality that does not aspire to float above it. He invited us, on behalf of the Earth community, to lead soulful lives of connection, reverence, mystery, grace, and wholeness.
I’m accepting that invitation. Will you join me?