I have had the good fortune to visit Australia a few times. I deeply appreciated the beauty, the wildlife, the kindness of the people and the bits of aboriginal wisdom that I gleaned. The fires consuming much of that continent are leaving behind horrific loss. The efforts to save the animals are heroic and inspiring, but the sorrow is palpable.
Last year’s fires in the Amazon were attributed to agribusiness and the unwillingness of people to consider the consequences of such catastrophic change. Indigenous leaders are assassinated routinely as they desperately inform us of the folly of over consumption.
The media rarely tells their story.
Or are we simply too busy maintaining unsustainable lifestyles to care?
The unprecedented flooding of Jakarta is mostly ignored, as has been Puerto Rico’s never ending quakes. Compassion, once a revered trait, now takes a second seat to costs and profits. But, no worries, we have unlimited finances when war and oil are the concerns.
In the debate over climate change we have lost a lot of time. Corporate advertising and political lobbyists have successfully lulled too many into a stupor. The President and Congress are eliminating laws that protect our water, air and public lands – and giving corporate greed even more incentive to destroy the earth.
What will it take to turn it around?
A while back I heard the phase “revolution of understanding”,* and I have concluded that yes, if we are to find a way through this nightmare, it will take tremendous understanding. It will take the understanding that we are one people and one planet. It will require vision and courage to make the choices that could have been made long ago.
Most importantly it will demand our love; the fiery kind of powerful love that refuses anything less. We can do this.
- “Revolution of understanding” is a phrase I heard from Prem Rawat, a human being whose conviction towards living helps others to walk their own walk. And I for one am grateful.
We make resolutions because we want things to be better. That is our nature. It’s our nature to be hopeful and when our hopes are dashed we suffer. Suffering is not part of our nature. It may appear that we are good at it, but in truth we run from it in every way we can. And we should.
Our culture has made a mockery of our nature. Whole industries are based on the fact that we want things to be better: better bodies, better minds, homes, and all. We are expected each year to declare personal resolutions. Books are written, tips are given and counselors are waiting at the ready when we fail.
When we are unclear about our nature we can be exploited. It doesn’t take much to see that exploitation is on an all time high. Our air, our water, and our relationships to one another are being trounced.
But I would suggest to you that this is happening because we are allowing it. And it is happening because we have forgotten our true nature.
We have grown comfortable with things that should not be comfortable. We have accepted leaders who are more content with war than peace; with food that is no longer nourishing us, but in fact makes us sick. We are comfortable with arbitrary divisions that are used to create arbitrary borders and arbitrary laws that destroy our humanity.
In forgetting who we are we have given our power away.
So if you are still searching for a resolution, why not resolve to know your truest nature, not the one the culture has determined for you. Our greatest gifts are in our absolute uniqueness and in our undeniable similarities. Our greatest longing is for peace. Not simply on the outside, but within.
And surely what lies within can be echoed out.
As winter solstice draws near, the shadows grow longer, the light burns brighter, and the air is crisp. It’s a contemplative time, a time to reflect on the past and to gather strength to prepare for the spring. If we have done our work through the seasons, we’re able to enjoy this time and celebrate with deep appreciation.
If this season catches us unprepared, we run the risk of missing its quiet beauty. Winter for all its harshness is a time to go within. It is also a time to share.
Everyday is worthy of celebration and giving thanks. Yet living close to the land awakens an appreciation of the return of light. It is something we share with our predecessors and with people throughout the world. We receive the longer days with this recognition: That even though the harshest times may still be before us, we will have the increased vision and strength to see it through.
There are many who will not be able to feel the subtle changes of the season. There are some who do not care. For whatever reason, we have handed the reigns of power to people who have forgotten they are of the earth. They cannot feel the magic or the majesty of living. They are content to destroy it all for material gain.
Yet the lovers of the earth will continue to love.
I am learning to not curse the cold, nor surrender to the darkness. There is something that softens my heart and feeds my soul. It’s simple and it’s absolute.
I am alive. In these complex and challenging times we are alive.
And there is so very much hope in that. Celebrate the light and hone the gift of love.
It is the only thing ignorance cannot destroy. Hone love and fight like hell.
In between the downpours that have become autumn’s new norm, I heard a faint cry from the potato patch. The potatoes were calling me to come and get them. I know that is ridiculous and perhaps it was my stomach saying it was time for lunch, but regardless, I took the time to unearth those precious gems. Heavy spring rains made their planting late and now they seemed pushed to the surface by the swell of water that continues to fall from the sky.
In case you haven’t gotten the memo, the times they are a changin’. The name we have given it is climate change. And while politicians debate the causes and pundits advance notions of population control and promote the need to industrialize our food systems even more, the gardener and the harvester observe and respond to the roller coaster ride that we are now engaged in.
To say we are in challenging times is an understatement.
As if uncertainty is not enough, the media spin attempts to guide us with fear. The already prevalent notion of scarcity is driving our pocket books and our vision. When all the while, the earth remains quite capable of feeding us.
This is what the lover of the earth knows.
The lover of the earth knows that there is still time to learn from the seasons, to enrich the soil, to re-discover old wisdoms and re-plant old seeds. The lover of the earth knows that food of the earth is the best medicine, unadulterated and pure. And the lovers of the earth will go right on loving regardless of the climate upheaval, because we can.
The earth has many more secrets to reveal and we are capable of learning.
As for me, I’ll meet this new day with trust in my heart and hoe in hand.
As I race to cut hay between rainfalls to ward off the scarcity in the mules’ paddock, I remember the words, “No time like the present”.* And as I debate which tasks are more important and which should never be omitted, regardless of how tired I feel or how late the hour, the words ring again to assure me of my choices. There is no time like the present.
As the refrain dances in my head and in my heart, I realize it is my Mother’s voice. These were often the words she used to get my lazier self up and at it – whatever “it” might be.
Choosing a life on the land really drives the point home. Choosing a life of community magnifies it. Once in team training I was reminded that every voice matters and that if you are not being heard you must find a way to be heard. There is no blame in this. There is only effort.
We are living through a unique time. There has been a predominant voice. It has been a controlling voice. It has often been without kindness. This dominant voice is now being challenged as voices, too often silenced, are finding their way to be heard. There is no need to blame. But there is a need to listen.
There is no time like the present. Modern physics challenges this notion and while their notions of time may hold truth, my reality is singular. This is our time. And for each of us there is no time like it. Every moment, every choice, every smile, every tear, every cup of appreciation filled is unique.
Acts of kindness seem to lengthen time. Giving myself to this moment surely makes it sweeter. There must be more than hope in the phrase, “No time like the present.” There must be action.
* This adage was first recorded in 1562. It was amplified by John Trusler to “No time like the present, a thousand unforeseen circumstances may interrupt you at a future time”.
Thanks to WDRT for airing “Consider This” each Thursday at 5:30 pm CST.
You can listen to it on Soundcloud.
The small rural towns of the Coulee region are about 8 to 10 miles apart. A now defunct rail system helped build the once thriving communities. Today ten miles can spell isolation to elderly, farmers, farmhands and their children.
In winter months it’s not so noticeable. We all seem to enjoy hunkering down and when we do see one another winter gives us something to complain about. But the buzz of spring is upon us and with it comes the local farmers markets. These markets serve many purposes. For some vendors it is a means to bring in a bit more cash, for others it is a chance to share their art, or a chance to catch up with neighbors and shake those winter blues.
The floods of last year left many wounds and one is fear. Fear that the old towns and the old ways of life are leaving. Well, it is true that new flood planes have destroyed landmark buildings and businesses, but the spirit of kindness that is a pillar of this region lives on.
So this is an invitation to you: Get out to the markets this season. Get to meet your farmers and craftspeople. If the musicians come out you can listen to some great music and enjoy the throwback to a simpler time. Mark your schedule to visit one or more markets a week. They’re only ten miles or so apart. Share your dollars locally to help keep our economy alive and well. And introduce yourself to your neighbors. It is always good to make new friends.
There are many visitors to our region who come to bask in the beauty of it. The people here and what we do are part of that beauty.
Rediscover the Coulee. Support the farmers markets. And help one another.
Here are a few of the markets in our area (I will add information as I get it):
Ontario Farmers Market Saturdays beginning May 25 from 9 am until 1 pm
Sparta Farmers Market Saturday mornings 8 am- noon
Viroqua Farmers Market Saturdays mornings 8 am – 12:30pm
La Farge Farmers Market Saturdays 9am- 1 pm
Cameron Park Farmers Market, La Crosse Friday evenings 4-8pm and Saturday mornings
photo of the marvelous heirloom apple blossoms at Echo Valley Farm
There is an affliction haunting human beings throughout the world. Some refer to it as hatred. Some argue it has always been among us. Some proclaim that it will always be. Decades of reflection and numerous experiences of being “the hated”, as well as discovering the need to check my own ability to hate, I have come to the conclusion that we must go beyond tolerance.
Tolerance means that while you may hold differing opinions and beliefs you are graciously allowing others to do the same. And while that may look good in polite society it has done little to undermine the currents of hate promoted by faith leaders, political tyrants, and street gangs looking for triumph.
No, it is time we move beyond self-righteous tolerance. We must be willing to see in “the other” our own selves at every turn. It is time for our humanity to be championed. And with that comes the multi dimensional spectrum of diversity, which is the human condition and our human right. We are, each and every one of us, unique and special, a gift to be enjoyed.
We teach our children to fear the other and then confuse them with the notion of tolerance. Let us begin with the very real truth that has eluded us in our affliction; we are one people, one planet.
We wring our hands as we learn of each violent act of hate, but continue to participate in the very cultures that allow it to be. It is up to each of us, this reclamation of our humanity, this championing of the voice of clarity and the wisdom of peace.
No religion, clergy, political or charismatic leader will be able to save us from this moment of despair until we do this.
Go beyond tolerance.
Discover the splendor of being human.
Thanks to WDRT for airing “”Consider This” each Thursday at 5:30pm CST. Or you can listen here on Soundcloud.
Thanks to Meg Novick for the photo.