Last Thursday I gathered with a group of UVic students at the Interfaith Chapel for a an activity which we called ‘Sacred Ecology.’
We came together because we are all refugees from what Joanna Macy calls the ‘Industrial Growth Society’. We are keenly aware that we are part of an economic and industrial system that depends on an ever-increasing consumption of earth resources. The earth provides from its abundance the resources that humanity consumes, and it receives back the poisonous wastes of our industries. As Lester Brown pointedly writes in his State of the Word 1998 report: “Just as a continually growing cancer destroys its life support systems by destroying its host, a continuously expanding global economy is slowly destroying its host – the Earth’s ecosystem.” Every day we hear the dire prediction of global warming, large scale destruction of species and biological diversity, crisis in agriculture and food production, world wide epidemics and the irreversible poisoning of the biosphere. The earth is aching and we feel it in our own bodies.
How do we live into this reality? This is a profoundly spiritual question. It questions who we are as human beings and what the meaning of our existence is. It asks of us how we are to respond in our own lifestyles, where we will put our energy, and what choices we will make. It asks us to consider matters of ultimate value, of what our place is in the web of life. It makes consideration of our human and natural ecology a sacred activity. For younger adults educating themselves to make their life contributions, the answers to these questions will shape their lives and vocations.
So we will gather to explore some of these life issues in the supportive and stimulating environment of the Chapel. Over the next months we will use the resources and experiential exercises created by Buddhist Joanna Macy to explore deeply our own inner attitudes, feelings, energies and creativity as we consider the state of our earth and our place in it. We will do the ‘work that re-connects’ as Joanna Macy calls it, and be empowered to become part of the ‘Great Turning’ of individuals and groups that seek to slow the damage to the earth, analyze the structural causes and create sustainable alternatives, and make a fundamental shift in worldview and values.
It’s an exciting project!
In my next blog, I will describe the fundamental elements that Joanna Macy suggests are needed to make this shift to a new consciousness.
Originally appeared in the Times Colonist on September 20, 2010.