Falling in Love with the Earth
Beltane (in Irish, Bealtaine), usually observed on or around May 1, literally means “bright fire.” It is the first day of summer in the Celtic world, initiating the period when the sun’s power is strongest. The heat of the sun warms the earth, awakening new life and nurturing growth.
At Spring Equinox I wrote about falling in love with your life. What would it be like if we allowed ourselves to fall in love with the Earth in this bright moment?
When we fall in love with a person, every move, every breath is an opening. We notice and cherish their particularities in exquisite detail – stance, gait, gestures, clothing, scent, taste, facial expressions, voice, flaws, scars. Our bodies, emotions, souls become attuned to theirs. A word, a touch, a slight shift can evoke a strong reaction.
If humans continue to love the Earth only in a generalized way, then our relationship with her is more material, transactional. And that is what we have now, a series of economic transactions in which we swap one area of devastation and destruction for one of pristine preservation. This was illustrated in a heart-wrenching way in the excellent documentary “A Fierce Green Fire: the Battle for a Living Planet,” which aired on Earth Day on PBS. David Brower of the Sierra Club described the negotiations that led to the flooding of Glen Canyon in 1963 and his regrets about his part in losing that beautiful wild place. We are headed for a time when we will have just enough forests so that they don’t completely disappear, just enough beaches so that we can go on vacation now and then, just enough protection of species so that the most appealing ones are saved – and even that is in doubt.
If we are in love with the Earth, if we are affected by what affects her, if we care deeply about what happens to this particular stream, to that plant, to the interaction of fungi, bugs, birds, mammals in this part of a forest, then nothing is expendable. Everything, every being – especially the tiniest, most vulnerable, least “attractive” – matters.
I am not so naïve that I think falling in love with the Earth is sufficient. We also need to defend her from powerful corporate interests. And we will fail to do so in some cases, as David Brower did in 1963. We risk having our hearts broken again and again. But if we go on as we have been, we risk everything.
For an opportunity to spend time falling in love with Seward Park’s old-growth Magnificent Forest, I encourage you to participate in the Spring Forest Medicine Walk May 23-24. For more details, click here.