The Earth Can

The earth can and will provide for us in ways and in traditions that extend well before and well after humans will be walking the earth. I love the idea of everything on earth existing from the same molecules that created the planet. Nothing was added, nothing was removed. We are made from the same stuff that was here millions of years ago. In this way, all that we are – the organic matter of our bodies – are descendant of the great birthing of our earth, a tiny blue green planet in a vast expanding galaxy. Our physical existence – our flesh – is one in the same with the soil, the clouds, and the trees. We are all made up of recycled materials, used and reused by this beautiful and terrifying earth, this earth we sometimes forget is our collective home as a species.

The suggestion that we can work with earth so that we may actively participate in sustaining and cultivating it reminds me of the Buddhist concept of “inter-being”, that we are collectively existing as a whole, that our ideas of a separate self as illusory…

This past weekend as I sliced carrots and peeled mango for a green juicing party my friend Kim and I had planned, I was struck by the humbling realization that all life on earth thrives for the simple fact that the earth itself sustains and nourishes us. The trees clean our air, the oceans give us water, the sky gives us the atmosphere to protect us from the burning rays of the sun, the soil gives us food. Collectively, all life on earth from the penguins and polar bears in the Artic to the jaguars in the Amazon to the coyotes in the desert subsist on the fruits and formations of the earth. Life in the broadest sense of the word would simply be not be possible without the delicate ecosystem of planet earth. And we, as mammals and humans, are privileged to be a speck, a pinprick, a blip in the expansive timeline of this planet’s history.

As I fingered the crisp edges of the fresh kale, I imagined the tiny seeds from which this now vibrant plant had gestated from. Deep in the dark belly of the soil, this seed had sprouted. It had been nourished by the earth – electrolytes, minerals, nutrients, water, sunlight – all these elements had conspired to be create the piece of leafy green I now clasp in my bare hands. I pressed the kale between my palms as if in a prayer and felt the buoyancy of the small vessels that veined through each leaf. I was mindful and grateful for all that had taken place to allow me to enjoy the bounty of health contained in this small leafy vegetable. The pithy words of journalist and author Michael Pollan faded into my mind: The garden suggests that there might be a place where we can meet nature half-way. The suggestion that we can work with earth so that we may actively participate in sustaining and cultivating it reminds me of the Buddhist concept of “inter-being”, that we are collectively existing as a whole, that our ideas of a separate self as illusory, that our idea of an ego-centric “me” is not real, that what is real is an encompassing and inclusive and expansive sense of “we”. And that the earth is part of that: the earth as mother, provider, lover…the earth as you, as me, as us – because we are not separate from it.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  • What does respecting the earth mean to you? What is the earth to you? What is  your relationship to it? What is your role in it?
  • In what ways are you respecting the earth today?
  • How can you invite for gratitude for the earth into how you eat, what you eat, who you eat with?