The Birthing of a New Earth Consciousness

Article by Ann Dean (April 2018 eNews)

I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I am the yearning for good.
                                Hildegard of Bingen

The quality I most associate with my childhood is wonder. I remember warm family times and particular places like my father’s lap, my blue-sky room and my grandmother’s heaven-scented kitchen. But what I most remember is nature—nature and the immensity of God. Especially being “alone” with God in nature: wandering in the woods, peering under logs and in creeks, camping, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, hiking mountain trails, singing campfire songs about whippoorwills, flames, river water, Sun, stars, animals, insects….  The song of the crickets heralded storytelling. The fireflies’ dance was an invocation to dreaming. Every day beckoned with beauty and adventure—so much to see and explore.

I waited all year for summer camp: backpacking, pitching tents, digging ovens, drinking from streams and bathing in the river. The rest of the year my senses reveled in the memories of that way of being at home in creation day after day, not just in stolen hours after school and on weekends. Our units at camp had Indian calls, chants, and names like Sherando, Sinewa, Shawnee.  I felt my story grow larger, connecting to theirs in the mountains called Blue Ridge and Smoky.

Years later, navigating the Caribbean by the stars, celestially, my body remembered lying still on the cool flat rocks by the river, learning the constellations in the mountains. We never had sky so clear in my hometown of Washington, DC. Poets speak poignantly of the unity of being and body memory.   Mary Oliver helps me remember:

I thought the earth
Remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars….

My experience of the immensity of God in creation has always felt so intimate and personal. There I experience Someone continually caring, energizing, unifying everything. Jesus Christ, “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.” (Colossians 1:15) Through him, I perceive and long to grow the human/divine potential of consciousness, choice and active engagement with God’s dream of oneness. For when Christ is present, he brings the whole cosmos.

This is a time in which it is imperative to listen to the divine cry and wisdom of our Mother Earth in order to survive as a species. However Earth may change, she will survive without us for she is part of a larger story, the Universe story. But the human species will not survive without making every choice with Earth’s well-being in mind. Tragically, this is not the case now. David Whyte encourages a good Earth awareness practice: “breathe again on the small campfire of your only becoming. And draw about you the immensity of the black sky which loves your fire’s centrality.”

An image that lingers in my heart’s prayer is a sliver of Moon in a dark sky.  Waning or waxing? It does not matter in the long run for it is just a matter of time.  God’s time, kairos time. I trust the mystery and silence of the dark sky. I am encouraged by the hiddenness of a dependable reality. For now, the work is to make the passage to a new mode of being. Mystics and scientists are proclaiming that a radically new evolutionary consciousness is being birthed now. This consciousness, I believe, will be the fruit of deepening contemplative Earth awareness. I am called to tend that evolving process, in others as well as myself. You can count on it in Shalem’s program for Transforming Community through contemplative leadership of groups and retreats.

The edges of our dark unknowing may not feel good because unknowing is vulnerable. Yet contemplative Earth awareness is growing, penetrating our prayer, sparking new imagination and inviting transformation. In provocative ways, our species is learning that choices must become ecological in order for humankind and Earth to move forward together in time, in a mutually enhancing way, in the radiant light and the sacred dark. Now, that is a wondrous hope.

April 04, 2018 by Ann Dean
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