“Quieter Now” (Earth Day 2020)

It’s quieter now.

The chainsaws have ceased their ripping, chewing, slashing.
Our forests have at last been left in peace.
The exploitation of living creatures to feed our countless mouths has ended.
Grazing herds now rest easy in fields and meadows unmolested.
Factories no longer belch their noxious gases into the atmosphere.
The poisons have begun to thin and one day the air may be clean again.
Aircraft no longer soar the skies, polluting even the clouds with their foul discharge.
Birds have taken wing unchallenged, ruling their domain once more.
Gone are the millions of fossil-fueled machines that once choked our planet.

They rust in silence.

The world has moved on.

The ever-present cacophony of sound that once plagued our world,
Mechanical, electrical, digital mayhem.  All of it is gone.
Schoolhouses lie in ruins; our sacred temples have turned to dust.
Pillars of steel and glass, once tall and proud, peek timidly above the waves.
Only the soft whispering of the wind among the leaves can be heard
In trees where children once laughed and played.
Gone are the halls of government, vanished are the edifices of art and culture.
And of all mankind’s achievements,

Only ashes remain.

Earth has bled herself dry for us.
She has transfused her lifeblood into us, giving freely of her bounty.
And all she asked for in return was respect.  Compassion.  Care.
For far too long, she writhed and choked and wept, yet we heeded her not.
And as our final chances were squandered by our pride and greed and vanity,
Our children looked on in horror.
But now, in this space of silence, our Mother begins to heal.
The sun soothes her wounds by day, the moon watches over her by night.
And seasons pass as they have always done.

But it’s quieter now.

Temple

Why do we enjoy being small? Are we so mesmerized by our insignificance that we must constantly prove it so? We seek out monuments of grandeur, lest we come to believe ourselves too important. Atop ancient spires of immutable stone, we relish the sweeping vistas that dwarf us. We find inspiration in a horizon we cannot see as the ocean lies endless at our feet. The star-drenched night sky reminds us that we are but a speck in the unfathomable void of the cosmos. …And we delight in the disproportion of our own existence.

When nature fails us, we construct temples of wood and brick and glass, insisting that there is Something or Someone larger than ourselves, to which we may be subject. We push the Infinite away, insisting It keep Its distance, rather than embracing It as part of Ourselves. So eager are we to reinforce our weakness, to prove our lack of worth. Rather than acknowledge our boundless potential, we willingly subjugate ourselves to ideas that hold no power, or to Nature, of which we are part. Why is this so?

Perhaps humanity has a collective inferiority complex. Conditioned as we are by a culture of individuality and lack. We compare ourselves to anything we see as separate, and our smallness justifies our ambition and reinforces our fear. We compete with those we see as “other”, not realizing we only hurt ourselves in the process. We must step away from our individual egos and realize that it is we who are the Temple.

Humanity itself is Holy.

Unity

The blood flowing through your veins was formed in the heart of a star. We are a microcosm of the Universe, possessing in part the substance of all.

Over eons, our minds have been trained to decipher patterns, yet so many elude us. The coarse texture of a feather, the delicate symmetry of a butterfly wing. Our veins a mountain stream, bringing life to the farthest reaches of our being. Nature’s divine patterns are etched into each of us, yet we are blind to them. We fail to realize our unity with the world even though we are drowning in it.

In nature, we unfold a part of ourselves too often bound up in society’s custom & convention. It is that hidden part which understands our unity with all things, that part which sees the common fabric from which all things are cut. Yet, we must also realize that it is only our minds which do the cutting. In truth the cloth is whole, as it has always been.

Our so-called intellect has a habit of lying to us. Separation is an illusion we impose upon the world because the pure synthesis of nature is beyond our capacity to rationalize. So it is beyond rationality where we can see past the lies. Here, we are truly free to see the beauty of our beating heart. Not the feeble muscle in our chest, but rather the throbbing, pulsing energy of reality itself. That is our true heart, and it is yours as it is mine. One heart, beating for all of us, driving the symbiotic synergy that we call life.

Holy Fire

A ball of flame arcs across the heavens, bringing light and life to a slumbering Earth.
It’s passage brief, it soon slips below the horizon, heralding the return of darkness.
Again, the flame rises. Light returns. A ceaseless rhythm.
Days, Seasons, Years – all marked by the orb’s ever-shifting path.
Patterns emerge, fitting the cadence we prescribe.
As we bend the light to serve our needs, our position becomes clear.
We have become Master, Diviner of Secrets, Center of All.

In time, we learn, it is rather we who circle the mighty star,
Which has survived billions of years without need of us to measure its passing.
Our Centrality is further challenged as our gaze stretches outward.
Our planet, our star, our galaxy – all dwarfed by the scale of our Universe.
Patterns emerge, independent of our feeble expectations.
As our science and technology reveal ever more Secrets, our position becomes clearer still.
We have become Small, Insignificant, Expendable.

Through ages endless and distances unfathomable,
The cosmos has silently unfolded without our intervention.
But not without purpose. For after eons, we are here.
And as we probe the deepest reaches of Mind and Universe,
As we explore the Questions with Answers beyond comprehension, our Position is finally revealed.
We are Vital. We are Precious. We are Life.
We are the Consciousness of the Universe, seeking to understand Itself,

A spark of holy fire in the endless night.
May we forever burn.

Cloud, Immortal

I sit by a window, 30,000 feet above my home, nose pressed to the double-pane glass like a first-time flyer. I have flown dozens of times, but I never tire of the view. The perspective afforded at this height is unmatched, even from the tallest mountains. Photographs and video can never reproduce the scale and depth of the actual view. Watching the world unfold in real-time far below, I feel a connection with all I see, a connection that can never be captured on film or flashdrive. Only the view of our world from space could top this. And yes, I intend to experience that someday, too.

I am always struck by how pitifully small we are. We break and bend the land to our purposes, but from above the clouds, all our efforts are dwarfed by the impossible scale of nature’s handiwork. Water dominates the landscape here. The tiny human structures appear to cling desperately to the shreds of dry land, like ants drowning in a puddle. How vulnerable. How fragile. How precious.

Water dominates the sky, as well. The cumulus clouds of the lower atmosphere boast such intricate structures, flaunting their complexity as if they are trying to outdo one another. Each a unique work of art, their pride is evident as they carry themselves regally across the sky. I can see thousands of these magnificent creations from my window, each discreet yet all connected.

“How do they retain their shape?” I wonder. While it’s true that the shape of each cloud is in constant flux, they each give an illusion of solidity, of cohesion. How do they retain their delicate edges, which, in reality, are in no way distinct from the surrounding atmosphere? From above, the clouds can be seen in their true, three-dimensional forms, shedding the limitations of a ground-based perspective. Casting shadows that extend for miles across the land below, how can one below the cloud conceive of that which is above? How can they discern the true and full nature of the majestic cloud as it floats languidly overhead?

We are flying between stratified layers, yet another aspect of the cloudscape which is entirely lost on the earthbound observer. We are told in grade school that some clouds form at higher altitudes than others, but the fact is abstract until witnessed firsthand. From the ground, all clouds are simply “up”, and the distance between layers is impossible to discern. From my window, however, the gulf separating the strata is like an ocean separating continents. Far below, the fluffy cumulus clouds march on in their endless parade, while above, the wispy cirrus clouds have no time to spend on making themselves beautiful. Cold and aloof, they scurry away with the wind, as if seeking some faraway spot for a secret rendezvous.

We are not so very different from these graceful constructs, our atoms held briefly coherent in the vast stream of time and space. The water molecules that form the clouds will eventually dissipate, evaporating back into the surrounding atmosphere, or falling to earth as precipitation, to nourish the inhabitants of the land, plant and animal alike. But not one of those molecules will ever truly be lost – they will continue their cycle between earth and sky. And perhaps one day, a new cloud will form which contains some of those same molecules.

Our own bodies are also predominantly water. And like the clouds, the molecules that compose us will one day dissipate. Our atoms will nourish the soil from which we came, will be absorbed into the biosphere, and may eventually emerge within the confines of another body. Why do we weep for death, then? While our form may change, the “stuff” of our life on this Earth is immortal.

Indeed, we are all immortal.