Monday, June 12, 2017

We Two Together: The Earth and Us

We Two Together: a sculpture by Michael Alfano,
currently on display at the Mill Brook Gallery
Photograph:: CC Jean Stimmell

We Two Together pulls at me, drawing me in deeper and deeper, a visual manifestation of recent thoughts and feelings. We Two Together is a sculpture by Michael Alfano, currently on exhibit overlooking a lush garden pond outside the Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Concord, NH. The sculpture depicts two lovers, joined as one, surrounded, in turn, by the greater whole of nature’s embrace.

We Two Together resonates with me in the same manner as an ecstasy poem I recently read by the Sufi poet, Rumi:

Your Love lifts my Soul from the body to the Sky
And you lift me up out of the two worlds.
I want your Sun to reach my raindrops,
So your heat can raise my Soul upward like a cloud.

It also triggered thoughts about a provoking piece by Paul Kingsnorth in the current issue of Orion Magazine1, suggesting we deal with climate change by awakening our sense of the sacred and practicing a new animism. His thoughts correspond with my own thinking.

I was converted to the notion that our Earth is a living, breathing organism since the 1960s, after first viewing that iconic photograph from space of our heavenly blue spaceship earth, and later read James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, which outlines how all of us as living beings interact with our inorganic surroundings to create a self-regulating system – a giant living organism – maintaining and perpetuating ideal conditions for life.

That notion still fills me with awe: it blows my socks off! To my way of thinking, indigenous folks around the world have been right all along: the Earth is a living being; She is our Mother.

I am engulfed in that same soaring sense of awe when I view We Two Together. Not surprisingly, I have diametrically opposing feelings for both our government officials and mainstream consumer society who laugh at the idea of a living earth and sadly, as a secondary result, poopoo the threat of climate change.

Who can deny, in our technological society, we take the earth for granted, treating her like an inert object: either a storehouse of commodities to be used and discarded, or as scenic, background prop to our lives, as if we were staging a movie.

Increasingly, however, in this age of man-made climate change, we pollute  at our own peril. While more of us perceive the danger, most offer as solutions only new government regulations or technical fixes. But, like the domestic abusers we are, I fear we will continue to defile the earth until, if and when, we recognize her sacred nature.

We have no choice but to change. The question is, will it be in time? Our survival  – along with most life forms on planet earth – depends on us stepping up in time to reclaim our primal forbearer’s reverence for our home.

 Kingsnorth, in his essay, is not sure if we need a new religion, but he makes a powerful case for a renewal of the sacred to re-awaken in us a sense of awe and wonder for something bigger than us:

What could that something greater be? There is no need to theorize about it. What is greater than us is the earth itself—life—and we are folded into it, a small part of it, and we have work to do. We need a new animism, a new pantheism, a new way of telling the oldest of stories. We could do worse than to return to the notion of the planet as the mother that birthed us. Those old stories have plenty to say about the fate of people who don’t respect their mothers.

In the spirit of Rumi, poetic teller of the oldest of stories, we must reclaim our Earth for who she really is: a living, breathing body, our beloved other. She is our Mother, supporting and cradling us, the source of all life.


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