October 15: Contemplation and Action

If citizenship is a matter of shared beliefs, then I believe in the democracy of species. If citizenship means an oath of loyalty to a leader, then I choose the leader of the trees. If good citizens agree to uphold the laws of the nation, then I choose natural law, the law of reciprocity, of regeneration, of mutual flourishing.
- Robin Wall Kimmerer

There are so many things bubbling up for me this week as I sit to write this message of reflection. There is joy at the unexpected warmth and delight this unusually warm fall week has brought. Simultaneously there is concern about the naturalness of this occurrence. Is this another sign of climate change? 

My heart aches from the political distress that hampers our ability to find shared solutions with each other. I listened to an interview with Norman Wirzba from Duke Divinity School about his new book This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World. The interview moved me. Questions were posed: Have we given up on humanity? Are we redesigning what it means to be human? Are we engineering our way out of humanity? There was discussion about how we are commodifying our world and how historically that is a shift in our relationship to the land. 

One might think it was a very depressing conversation, yet his antidotes were not in the least. Every place and every being deserves our attention, our cherishing, and all of it is a gift. Everyone is a child of God. There is no reason to exclude. No place to be abandoned. Every place is a place where God is. Wow, I thought if we take that into our hearts and act upon it healing will occur in all the places that we are broken within ourselves and within our relationships with each other and the earth. 

Excited by his inspirational message that resonated with me, I googled him. Imagine my disappointment when I found on his bio at Duke University his recommended reading list of eight books all written by white males. Now I confess that all of these books look interesting and like ones I would probably want to read. Still, it was a stark reminder to me of how wonderfully flawed we are as humans and how hard it is to live into the reality of not excluding, even when the desire to be inclusive has been bored into our hearts and souls.

It is for this reason that I believe that a contemplative life is inextricably linked to our capacity to make progress on dismantling the barriers that prevent the flourishing of everyone. We need the daily practice to remind us to be present, to look deeper, to be intentional, and be open to things we cannot do alone—the things that require God’s partnership.  

I will be reaching out to Dr. Wirzba about my observation in a spirit of lovingkindness. I hope this small interaction will make a difference. I invite you to find those small places close to home that you too can make a difference in how we include and reverence each other and this beautiful earth.