Michael Meade's article
In the wake of the enormous storms, raging fires and growing climate crises of the past year there has been a surge of eulogies for the earth. While lamenting the loss of species and breakdown of eco-systems makes sense, a eulogy is not simply a “speech in praise of one who has died.” The old Greek word eulogia means "to praise, speak well of, or bless” the living or the dead. When it comes to the earth, it may be of increasing importance that we find ways to offer praise and blessings, rather than simply write obituaries for the planet.
The danger is not only that environmental systems collapse, but also that before we reach the point of complete disaster, human imagination fails to function and we fall out of the living story of the world. Stories are an ancient method of adding presence to the world, a way of “speaking well” while continuing to learn about the mystery and wonder of life on earth. The stories we tell affect the levels of understanding and feelings for life that we have.
Most current ideas of the future tend to be not just gloomy, but fatalistic. Scientific views of the climate crisis predict impending doom and modern cultures seems to lack a meaningful response. It is not simply that we need a better world than we have now; but also that we need a better world view and deeper story of interconnectedness than we now have.
The ecological damage may turn out to be greater than science has so far uncovered. Yet, it is also possible that the earth’s capacity to renew and restore life is greater than science can perceive. In reducing the world to what we can measure we lose all that is immeasurable and transformative about life. The story of the earth has always been a tale of life, death and renewal. As archetypal mother, the earth has always served both as tomb and womb, the ancient burial ground as well as the ever renewing ground of being.
Certain rites of passage require that everything seem to be upside down, devoid of meaning or about to end before genuine transformation can occur. This time of climate crisis and cultural collapse calls for a metamorphosis that transforms the fundamental relationship between human culture and the earth.
In many ancient traditions the year and the world were intertwined. The advent of a New Year renewed time, but also restored the potential of the living earth. The world was known to renew itself all the time in the secrecy of forests, in the mystery of beehives, and also in the hearts of those who commit fully to life. Like the sun inexorably returning from the darkest point of the year, something deeply regenerative resides within the earth and in the depths of imagination found inside the human heart.
An old idea suggests that a person is praying whenever they are thinking of something greater than themselves. May this be a year of thinking of and praying for the earth. May it be the year for speaking well and blessing, for restoring and re-storying the earth.
Wishing you a blessed and soulful New Year.
Candida van Rood, aka Candy vR, (or Candy Spender).