Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Challenge to Savor or Save the World

Earth Day! All over the world, people are honoring our planet and acknowledging the ecological crisis that is being brought about by climate change--climate change that has resulted from an excessive amount of carbon being absorbed into the atmosphere. 

Here in Illinois, hundreds of people are gathering in Springfield, Illinois, today to advocate for the recently proposed legislation to hugely invest in clean energy that will result in 32,000 jobs, reduction of carbon emissions by 20% by 2025, and get the state of Illinois to using 30% renewable energy by 2030. Fantastic!

However, it is sometimes hard to stay the journey of environmental justice. Change comes so slowly in the United States and the industrialized nations, all the while developing countries are ramping up their emissions to achieve similar economic vitality as we have here. 

E.B. White said, “Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day.’ The reality is that if we forget to savor the world, if we fail to notice the exquisite beauty of creation whether it be the majesty of birds or plants, the simple vibrant colors in the sky or the sweetness of a lover’s caress, then there ultimately isn’t any reason to save the world. 

We must savor our lives if we are to put them into the service of helping to save the world. That’s the irony. Sometimes we passionate people get so focused on serving as change agents that the beauty of our own lives runs thin. If we lose connection with those we love most, then we become impotent. 

Or perhaps we get sick or ill. Last week I failed to post a blog entry. It was the first week since I began in mid-January that I failed to post on Love with Courage. I simply couldn’t--due to lack of energy caused by illness. I’ve fallen sick way too much lately. It is discouraging. And so this seems like what I should write on this week.

So many of us who address justice work must learn how to deal with stress and stay the course. It is so easy to forget who can support us and feel like we’re walking all alone. Or our vision simply narrows because of the multitude of demands placed on us--or perhaps better put, the multitude of demands we allow ourselves to be pushed and pulled by. 

Ultimately it is our choice what to give our attention to. And there are always a multitude of worthy demands for our time and energy, but unless we get clear what our focus is, we cannot be effective. 

Each of us are in formation. We are here on this planet, I believe, to learn how to love and love courageously. And this calls us to listen to what is calling us, discerning what calls us to focus on.

Many of us are open to transformation and are currently undergoing the changes necessary to bear real fruit. But it isn’t easy. For we are like seeds. We are in formation, if we’re not yet creating fruit. To bear fruit, we must stay the course of our calling.

I so appreciate how David Rynick describes the experience of a seed. In his book The Truth That Never Fails, he writes:

I feel like a tomato seedling emerging from the earth after many days in the damp darkness of the ground of myself. Those uncounted days are an eternity for the tomato seed. The unfamiliar tickling of moisture calls to something inside me--the deep ache of longing for something unimaginable. All I know of me is flat and round--a small disc of unremarkable color. Everything else is a scarlet dream--a picture once glimpsed--a whispered fragment of a story. Then the terror and wonder starts. The wet coolness of the earth begins to dissolve me. Here are urges I have never felt. I try to resist but am powerless. I can’t hold myself together. Saying my last prayers, I allow myself to be split open. Breaking apart, I discover anew that I am not what I thought. I feel myself going up and down at the same time. The vertical urge toward a power above appears as a single stem whose full function is, as of yet, hidden from me. And in the other direction is a gentler, finer urge downward. Little white threads spreading quietly deeper into the soil to receive necessary nourishment from this unknowing darkness. ... I pray for the faith and determination to keep walking ahead--to keep doing that which I do not know how to do. 

On this Earth Day, may we be reminded of what seeds are being planted, what seeds have already transformed into fruit-bearing plants, and where we need to put our attention. 

For we can only nurture a select few seeds. May we discern and choose wisely.

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