Early in life I grasped a sense of the sacred in nature. I sensed something unspoken in the whisper of pines as my eyes strained to see through needles and filtered sunlight. I felt something magical as I broke across the mist in early morning walks in the bend of the Broad river. I didn't need any complicated theology to see the divine and the good in life in those moments. I grew up in Irmo, South Carolina which is a suburb of Columbia. Despite being in a suburb, I was lucky to have miles of woods behind my house. I could hear frogs and crickets in the evenings. I spent sun burnt summer days building forts,and playing flashlight tag among the fireflies and pines. My favorite time was to make my way to the river just as the sun broke the sky and the mist still cast mysterious coverings against the trees. I would sit on river rocks, mindless of mocassins or the rush of the river. I was queen of the river in that moment. I look back on those wild moments of my childhood and taste a freedom I struggle to find again.
There was some elemental understanding of my connection with those woods, that river, and the pulse of life. I would come home baked in mud, my mom would hose us down before she'd let my sister and I back into the house.
Water, earth, air, fire – and spirit. So elemental and basic, yet we lose touch behind our computer screens and the pace of a hurried life. It is easy to think that we can separate ourselves, and remove ourselves from the cycles of nature. Yet the hurricane reminds us. The rainbow reminds us. We must be reminded of our sacred connection, if we can possibly hope to find some balance in our life on this small, blue planet.
David Suzuki writes in The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature ,"Human beings depend on Earth and its life-forms for every aspect of their survival and life. It is impossible to draw lines that delineate separate categories of air, water, soil, and life. You and I don't end at our fingertips or skin - we are connected through air, water, and soil; we are animated by the same energy from the same source in the sky above. We are quite literally air, water, soil energy and other living creatures."
On this 40th Anniversary of Earth Day let us reconnect to this relationship. Let us step outside on a starry night and hope to see some fireflies. Let us think about what we eat and why. Let us think about the small things we can do to save energy, to use sustainable products, and live gently on mother earth.