We Belong to the Earth

I had the privilege of delivering the following talk at Marin's Climate March on Saturday, April 29, 2017.  Our Fox Terrier Cowboy is with us today. Everyone who truly loves a dog realizes that we don’t own our dogs. One look into those adoring canine eyes and it’s no longer clear who owns whom. The heart opens, and a deeper truth emerges: We belong to each other. That’s why faith traditions tell us: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

But how far does that neighborhood extend? To whom do we belong? To immigrants? To the homeless? To those without healthcare? To the incarcerated? To those who look, love or believe differently? To dogs and cats? To redwoods and rockfish? To aquifers and atmosphere? To the entire world that birthed us?

Life on this planet did just fine without us before we arrived, yet it’s not doing fine with us. Without wisdom, we forget our place in the cosmos. We act like we are the cause and purpose of the planet. We forget who we are, what we are, where we belong. Does the Earth belong to us, or do we belong to the Earth?

Yes, we belong to the Earth herself. We belong to flora and fauna. We belong to each other.

Yes, we belong, and in belonging we are freed from over-consuming, abusing, and destroying. In belonging, we are free to be in relationship with, rather than relationship over.

In belonging, we remember who we are: We are evolution, aware of it own unfolding. We are Mother Earth waking up to her own magnificence, a magnificence that includes every person, every species. A magnificent belonging of all beings to one another.

That’s why we march, why we rally, why we act, why we advocate. We belong to each other.

Thankfully, we have dogs and all creation to remind us.

Arrested by an Iris

Bearded irises erupted in our front yard, proclaiming with royal brilliance spring's arrival. Every time I start to walk past them, awe stops me. I am arrested by beauty. I pause, admire, and am grateful. What if more and more could have the same effect? What if gratitude were available virtually every moment, everywhere? What if my aperture for gratitude expanded to include washing machines, pears, sidewalks and black-capped chickadees?

I'm starting to notice how many "things" support me every day. Socks and sandwiches, cats and carburetors, ivies and eyeglasses. From the simplest convenience to superfluous joy-boosters like the iris, my entire life is sustained and defined by grace.

What if I basked in God-essence exuding from an aeonium's buttery bloom outside my window? What if even the paper towel became worthy of my adoration? What if I acknowledged my office chair for its support and the mouse for its skillful guidance of the cursor? What if I thanked my cuddling pajamas?

Buddhists talk about interdependent arising; no one thing exists in and of itself. Everything is an interdependent web of interconnected causes. Each gives and receives in ever-expanding ripples of overlapping reciprocity.

The enlightened eye sees through the nebulous border where one thing begins and another ends.

What if the division between the pear tree and me totally dissolved? What if the separation between you and me was seen for the illusion it is?

How would life change if midst genuine pain, frustration, injustice, and uncertainty, we embraced with a full heart every tidbit of grace, revered every thread of the interconnected web of all Being?

Would we able to bear such all-infusing gratitude? Can our hearts hold that much sacred joy? Let's find out.