An apt Wendell Berry quote comes to mind, about there being no such thing as sacred and secular places, but rather sacred and desecrated places.*
Those phenomena with which we have no affinity and which we are not in some sense ready to see are often not seen at all.**
Brian McLaren points out that we live in a very narrow space, only a few miles deep, between the solidity that covers a core-heat similar to that of the sun’s surface and the deep cold of space. Yet everything we have need of is here – we have abundance, though it is not ours.
We share it with thousands upon thousands of other species, worlds upon worlds, worlds within worlds.
We so often define abundance as making more faster – not so much in our words but in our practices. McLaren has named this a suicidal system because we are using all of this earth’s resources and half of another world’s: 11:57 is his song about the system.
We must redefine abundance. Michael Bhaskar suggests that for our wellbeing what we want is to know we have choice:
Our wellbeing is dependent in the ability to exercise choice, but too much choice backfires. The feeling of choice, rather than its reality, is what we want.^
Just because we can choose, over and over again in a modern day, doesn’t mean we have to.
Exercising “because-we-can” choice desecrates and despoils the abundance we see and the abundance we do not see: the plethora of love available for everyone, the richness of comfort for those who mourn, the oceans of ideas for solving fauna and flora problems … .
In her wonderful poem for opening eyes Today, Another Universe, Jane Hirshfield begins with the diagnosis of the human on the condition of a tree:
The arborist has determined:
senescence beetles canker
quickened by drought
but in any case
not prunable not treatable not to be propped.
The branch from which the sharp-shinned hawks and their mate-cries.
The trunk where the ant.
The red squirrels’ eighty-foot playground.
The bark cambium pine-sap cluster of needles.
The Japanese patterns the ink-net.
The dapple on certain fish.
Today, for some, a universe will vanish.
then just another silence.
The silence of after, once the theater has emptied.
Of bewilderment after the glacier,
the species, the star.
Something else, in the scale of quickening things,
will replace it,
this hole of light in the light, the puzzled birds swerving around it.^^
(*From Brian McLaren’s God Unbound.)
(**Thomas Kuhn, quoted in Lynda Barry’s Making Comics.)
(^From Michael Bhaskar’s Curation.)
(^^From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Today, Another Universe: Jane Hirshfield Reads Her Stunning Perspectival Poem of Consolation by Calibration.)