"No Sierra landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what in manufactories is called rubbish or waste; everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons. This quick, inevitable interest attaching to everything seems marvelous until the hand of God becomes visible; then it seems reasonable that what interests Him may well interest us. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. One fancies a heart like our own must be beating in every crystal and cell..." (Muir, 1987:157). When John Muir accompanied a sheep-herder into the Sierra Nevadas in 1869, the notes and sketches he created from that expedition were filled with inspiring descriptions, moments, and musings. Perhaps most amazing, but not surprising, is how he met God in the details of natural life.
As human beings, we leave a trail of waste. Signs for our activity are evident in towering landfills, scraps left to float in outer space, disastrous oil spills, bleached coral reef, corn rows devoid of meadow spaces for monarchs, suburban sprawl, intensely populated farms known as CAFOs that pollute on a dilapidating scale, etc. It can feel overwhelming. Regardless of your spiritual views, humankind is in a unique position. But, we are not separate from the myriad systems that span our planet - we are intimately attached to them.
Discover the reality behind political propaganda. Visit places and talk with people who are involved at the root level of key issues that surround environmental issues. Instead of viewing issues as "us" vs. "them" - remember that we are all in this together. What happens to Earth, happens to humans, too.
What if we really looked at the essential quality of what it means to be human and applied that to every person we meet? What if we looked past cultural differences, individual preferences, and socio-economic statuses, to grasp a world view that recognized the dignity, the simple beauty, and the beginning goodness each human being has? Or, another way: what if we judged ourselves as harshly as we judge others? What if we took personal responsibility to do our part in the place God put us - not just in taking care of ourselves and our families, but also in caring for our planet, for our habits, for the ways in which we mar our part of Earth?
Here's to hope that individuals recognize their impact; because, we are all connected. God's heart beats within us all.
SENK, an artist and writer in the Shenandoah Valley, savors moments contemplating life's intricate beauty.