As Unitarians we are blessed with the rich reflections of our elder, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He invites us to experience our call to transcendental unity with nature:
“We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul.”
We move toward and become that which we think about. What we think about creates our vision. As we live our vision, our children watch and live their lives the same way. For me, Earth Day is a high holyday! It reminds me of a core belief that sustains me going forward. We need to walk with beauty and respect. The natural world is our home!
David Wagoner underlines an essential aspect of being connected to nature in his poem entitled LOST.
Stand Still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is HERE,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying HERE.
No trees are the same to Raven.
No branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
It is my wish today that you may connect to your original sense of place, to the land of your ancestors, to the place of your origin. In so doing you will discover your indigenous roots. When we are connected to the land, we value this living entity as our provider, teacher and healer. May this awareness awaken deeply in your soul this EARTH DAY!
Rev. Jim Francek
“People and nations who understand the Natural Law are self-governing, following the principles of love and respect that insure freedom and peace.”
–Traditional Circle of Elders, NAVAJO-HOPI Joint Use Area
The Natural Laws work hand-in-hand with the circle. Each part of a circle will look to the center, the essential, and will see something different. For example, if you put an irregular shaped object in the center of a circle and you have people standing in a circle around the object, each one will describe it differently. Everyone in the circle will be right. Only by honoring and respecting everyone’s input, can the truth about the object be revealed. We need to learn to honor differences.
By David Wagoner
To be indigenous… means to claim the land as your relative.
To be indigenous means to be connected to the land as the source of our identity. In many ways we have lost our sense of place. That loss allows us to wander through life without a sense of who are people and community are. To lose a sense of place causes a major wound that waits for our attention and focus. Separated from our essential connection to the earth we are subject to the winds of change and a life of rootless wandering.
With the coming of the European colonizers, came a belief that “life is about owning more land and more material things”. This central belief was that man was created to dominate the earth and extract whatever wealth he could from it. Their market economy was based on a zero-sum game. Winner takes all. Coming to the new world meant there was a place of unlimited resources to be plundered and taken.
They interacted with the native people who held a totally different sense of the land. The land was their mother. They held that they were part of the earth not separate from it. The streams and rivers were the life blood of every living thing on the earth. Water was life! What they put into the river went straight into the life blood of a living entity. They lived according to a “gift economy”. When operating at their highest level of consciousness, they awoke each day full of gratitude for the day unfolding in front of them. They understood that they were connected to everything in nature. The trees, the buffalo, the feathered and finned ones were their family. The strawberries, the squash, the sweetgrass and sage were all relatives that provided nurture or medicine for healing. When they went to harvest these entities, they first asked permission and then gave a prayer of gratitude for the gift they received.
The collision of a market economy and a gift economy surfaced with their belief around land. For the colonizers land was to be owned for it was the ultimate sign of wealth. The more the better. For the native people the land was not to be owned but to be honored, respected and held as sacred. It provided for them the sign of a presence of Great Mystery. It was a living entity and the resting place of their ancestors and giver of life. When the colonizers realized how central the land was to the belief and lives of the natives, they developed a strategy of separating the natives from their land. They relocated the tribes far away from their original physical space. And so, the practice of soulless disconnection from the earth as sacred… became a working principle of the dominant culture. We now are living in the space this practice has created for us and our grandchildren. If there is any hope of a future, we need to again become indigenous to the land in our lives. We need to reclaim our identification with the land as our nurturing relative. The Lakota nation has a phrase that captures this reality… “Mitakuye Oyasin! We are all related!