Not Other Than Earth

On a long plane ride yesterday I skimmed the magazine-length New York Times article about how we could have stopped global warming forty years ago. We didn’t, and now the planet’s prognosis is grim. Heck, the present is grim. We’re seeing extreme storms, wildfires, drought, and all the consequent disruptions for people, mostly poor, who are effected. My daughter will know a significantly harsher, less-trustworthy earth than the one I know. I closed the magazine, feeling sick. There I was, looking down on shimmering Lake Michigan with its glorious, populated shoreline—looking down on my beloved, fragile planet, from a plane spewing exhaust and contributing to its demise so I could visit my father. My despair was immense.

From the air, borders between countries are meaningless, divisions between people seem silly, and our earth is stunningly united. The first photograph of earth from outer space was taken the year I was born; mine was a generation blessed with consciousness that our home is a big blue marble hurtling through space. Fifty years later, we still can’t take that truth in. We still imagine that we’re individuals separated from one another, striving to be important, and that the earth is incidental, and that we can stop global warming with a fix. Our eyes are egoistic, short-sighted, small, and dualistic.

What if our biggest job as humans now is to finally see the singularity of our planet and all its inhabitants? When we change the way we look at the world, the things we look at change. And we desperately need change. Suspended 10,000 feet above the ground, my heart sick with how I and the industrialized civilizations are devastating the planet, I located my hope in our human capacity to see with new eyes. We can learn to see our unity and let all our actions spring from that unified vision. My teacher Jim Finley, student of Thomas Merton, says:

Though I am not God, I am not other than God either.
Though I am not you, I am not other than you either.
Though I am not the earth, I am not other than the earth either.

This capacity to understand ourselves as in and of one another, shot through with divinity, and sourced in our beloved planet, is available to everyone. It’s deeply comforting. And it’s the only starting place for the healing we—and our planet—need.

–Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew


Are you ready to head back to school?  September brings lots of opportunities to practice seeing with new eyes!

September 14, 1:30-3:30, Spiritual Memoir drop-in Session at Wisdom Ways.
We like to say that accomplished writers “have the gift.”  What if instead of talent the key to effective writing is the writer’s capacity to receive?  And what if we reframe the final stage of writing (sharing, publishing) as passing this gift along?  We’ll launch our fall spiritual memoir series by tracing the generous, life-giving energy that moves in, through, and beyond the creative process.

September 15, 9:00-12:00, Writing the Sacred Journey, an introduction to spiritual memoir, Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality.

September 24-28:  Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice retreat at Madeline Island School of the Arts.

October 27: The Launch: Reimagining Publishing with Integrity, Freedom, and Generosity at the Loft Literary Center, 1:30pm-4:30pm.

November 16: Living Revision: The Writer’s Craft as a Practice of Transformation at the Loft Literary Center, 10am-4pm.

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