Below is a little piece I wrote for our church’s newsletter. Thought I’d share it with all of you here as well as there. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of really depressing news on the environmental front, and find myself drawn to the question of how should we live our individual lives in the face of the catastrophic global changes now at our doorstep.
I find myself not worried so much about the Earth. Earth has endured many changes (extinctions, planetary catastrophes and the like) over its 6 billion or so years of existence. I have no doubt that life will go on into the far distant future, long beyond the extinction of the human species. But rather, how do we as individuals construct meaningful lives and live with integrity towards the natural world and each other at this moment in Earth’s history. As thoughts emerge, I will share them here.
For now, I leave you with a few tidbits on being vs. doing:
Here we go! New school year, back to the sanctuary, end of summer, gathering of the waters… from now until the new year, the default setting of our culture is on GO. Actually, the default setting of our culture is on go-go-go all the time, but in autumn, it seems to kick into high gear. If you have school aged children or are in school yourself, you may feel overwhelmed (I know I do). At many workplaces, there is a sense that the summer is over, and it’s time to get busy. Even retirees may sense the energy and feel restless to get out and fill the days with activity before winter’s blizzards force a retreat indoors.
As a culture, we (Americans) very much value activity. Doing. Keeping busy. Perhaps it’s a leftover from our Puritan forbears for whom idle hands were the devil’s playground. The long vacations and leisurely afternoon siestas of Europe are mostly looked upon with disdain (and maybe just a twinge of envy) by our collective consciousness. But all too often, this full-throttle activity leaves us at the end of the day (or month, or year) with a “where did the time go?” feeling. Not very satisfying, is it?
Speaking on behalf of the Universe, I hereby declare that simply be-ing, rather than always do-ing also has value. To consciously plan for and claim a bit of peace, quiet and calm in one’s life is a revolutionary act. To resist the urge to fill up every waking moment with activity is to swim against the tide of our times. Again, speaking on behalf of the Universe, I declare stargazing to be a form of consciousness-raising. I declare that laying under a tree and staring up into its leafy canopy to be more valuable than cutting it down to “stimulate the economy.”
Long live the inner revolution.
Rebecca Hecking is the author of The Sustainable Soul: Eco-Spiritual Reflections and Practices. She writes from her home in northwest Pennsylvania, in the United States.