Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Ecology of Repentance V

For a moment, imagine the worst-case scenario. Suppose that we have gone too far, that our abuse of the environment means that the biosphere as we know it is about to come to an end; that, as James Lovelock has warned us, the Planet, Gaia, is about to protect herself by destroying her destroyers. In such a situation, those who understand repentance will have an immense longing to clean up the mess as far as possible before the end, while those who continue in blind pursuit of greed will suddenly awaken to the fact that they are gorging themselves at Belshazzar’s table, and that they are themselves the skeletons at the feast.

It is impossible and pointless to lay blame for our peril, nor do we have time. We are all responsible for our Earth, and we are all called to the fullness of ourselves. “Respect” is a key word among Native American people. It means the humility that is clear sight, the recognition of our interconnectedness, the fragility of survival and Creation, the precious gift of life and the mystery that sustains it; the sacredness of individual integrity and choice for the sake of the community. Repentance for what we have done to the Earth is not possible without the repentance that accepts pain and death as a part of life and joy, and the freedom from the fear of death that is the gift that restores us to ourselves, bringing to birth the compassion that is the “world to come.” With this gift, we receive freedom simply to be, freedom to hope that our search for solution to the ecological crisis will not merely compound it.

When the Buddha achieved the openness of enlightenment, he touched the Earth. When oil from the Exxon Valdez drifted southwest to blacken the crystalline waters around the Kenai peninsula, children went, grieving, to the beach to write letters of apology to the Earth and the Sea.

As may we.

'Creation' Magazine, September, 1992


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