One Earth, One Humanity
I have been reading many articles about climate change lately. The future of our fragile planet is in the hands of the most evolved species who inhabits her. Many of us grieve when we see global leaders make big decisions to take more and more from Earth’s resources unobstructed. Will it take the death of our beloved home planet to wake up humanity?
Earth’s needs are bigger than any social system that humanity has ever devised for the organization of our individual, local, national and global selves. Earth is bigger than the human race and we must include the other species who call her home in our circles of care and compassion. Those of us who have pets in our families know what love other species can bring to our lives. We are aware of their dependence on us for providing them with sustenance and love. Let us widen our circle of care to include wild animals. We have a responsibility to act in ways that protect their fragile ecosystems. They need our voices to advocate for their needs as much as our pets need us to speak up for theirs. Earth is bigger than our petty differences. The biodiversity of life she sustains keeps her alive and healthy. She is full of wonders that make our hearts and minds bigger. Earth is our home and we are called to protect her for ourselves and for others.
The divisions between us have been handed down to us as a toxic legacy. They are divisions that a few greedy leaders want to reinforce. Who knows what would happen if we all let go of those divisions and banded together in unity?
Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si, using a medieval Latin phrase praising the earth as part of God’s creation. He has used his moral authority to publish a document calling Catholics to be leaders in protecting the earth. Some readers do not like it because of its directness, especially the inclusion of the word Justice. Both ecological and economic justice are divisive issues across political party lines, as if earth is a beach ball to be tossed about by those who desire to conquer and dominate her and her inhabitants instead of heal her. But what would happen if our actions put a stop to this trend?
Enough of us across the planet must believe it is possible to help heal Earth with our actions. We must also have patience, because it’ll take time and energy to achieve this goal. We must put down the electronic devices and walk with each other in “real time.” We must let go of paper-pushing bureaucracies that chain people to their desks and do more real work involving our whole bodies. We must believe that if we band together to unburden the earth she can begin to regenerate without barriers.
Standing Up and Beginning the Work
My s/heroes are the people who have stood up and started the process of earth’s healing and regeneration. They are humans like Wangari Maathai, who planted many trees in Africa, sought peace between nations and advocated for using natural science as a discipline to find ways to help the earth regenerate herself. In 2009 she was given the title UN Messenger of Peace. Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, has promised to facilitate the planting of 10 billion trees. I applaud this beginning whole-heartedly. Who else will grab the torch and be next? The honor is not limited to one, but can include many.
Unity and Regeneration on the Labyrinth Path
There are as many ways to bring healing to Earth where she needs it most as there are people who live here. It is up to us to find our own way to contribute to Earth’s regeneration. Our humanity longs for it. Our humanity also longs for connection with others in the process.
Walking meditation on a labyrinth path encourages us to listen to ourselves and to Earth. When I walk the wooded path in my co-housing community I listen to the trees, rocks, earth, leaves, birds, frogs, squirrels and chipmunks. They are delightful to watch and I soak up their song with my ears. I am grateful for the breeze that cools my skin. It’s a place that promotes connection to other species while I replenish my own energy. When I walk the path on the Greenway in Boston, I feel the cleansing refreshment of the water bubbling and spraying from the fountain at the center. Most times, the elements are our friends when we respect them.
Release the World
Walking on the labyrinth path gives us time to release the burdens of the outside world in order to listen to our hearts. Each turn brings us deeper in touch with who we are as humans. Because only one path brings us to the center, our conscious minds can relax and allow our unconscious minds to give us messages that our involvement with the world may have buried. We release the barriers to being present to the space we are in, and to others who may be walking the path with us. Simply setting an intention to listen and be present to life around us is good first step.
By the time we step into the center of a labyrinth we are ready to receive a message from our unconscious mind or from Earth herself. We may receive fresh insight about something that concerns us and some action we are meant to take. We are open to feeling the love that is there for us, and we may begin to understand that we are not alone. We may seek direct connection with someone by reaching out and holding their hand.
At the center we can accept the wisdom held out to us by the parts of ourselves that stay hidden from us in the outside world. Our unconscious mind is our creative mind, our imaginative mind, our metaphorical mind, our archetypal mind, and the place where our dreams come from. After you walk the labyrinth, you may be gifted with a meaningful dream.
After we have spent some time listening at the center of the labyrinth, we begin to make our way back to the world. We may have some increased perspective around what gifts we have to bring to the world. There may be a group to share our insights with after everyone has completed their walk, for our own insights often benefit others, too.
We all need to know that there are others who will stand by our side when we are ready to take a leap of faith. Walking meditation on the labyrinth path with a group, especially if that group meets often, can serve as both an anchor in life’s storms and an impetus to take fresh steps toward the future we want to see for ourselves, our fellow creatures, and Earth herself.