This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog post, A crisis of Spirit. As I quoted yesterday, Zhiwa Woodbury says our environmental crisis is a crisis of spirit.
As a Quaker, spirituality has been central to how I’ve lived my life.
It was a spiritual vision that set me on my lifelong path of environmental activism.
This is the photo that was and still is my spiritual vision, literally. I took this photo of Long’s Peak in the early 1970’s. I printed it in my darkroom and kept it near me, a reminder of the mountains. Looking forward to returning.
When I moved to Indianapolis in 1971, I was just shocked by the clouds of noxious smog. That was before catalytic converters. I could not, and still cannot understand how people could continue to drive when they were destroying our environment. I kept seeing an image of my beloved mountains obscured by smog. I would look at the photo above and imagine not being able to see that in the future. That was incomprehensible and devastating and led me to refuse to have a car for the rest of my life.
September 13, 2015, I wrote “Cars as Weapons of Mass Destruction”, which was later published in the book, Explore Sustainable Indiana.
But I felt I had failed when I was unable to convince anyone else at all to give up their car. However, the strong spiritual force I felt throughout my life related to our environment never waned.
The book speaks of our lost connection with nature.
I was raised on farms. And the Quaker boarding high school I attended, Scattergood Friends School, is on the land of a working farm. Some of our daily work crews included working on the farm, raising pigs and pruning the apple trees in the orchard.
It was amazing that our family vacations were camping trips to National Parks. Our favorite was Rocky Mountain National Park, where the photo above was taken.
Not having a car meant I spent hours every day in nature. Walking to and from work. And running nearly every day. That walking took much longer than it would have otherwise because I carried my camera with me and would stop to take photos. Walking made me pay close attention to where I was (in nature) as I looked for images to capture. The more experience I had, the more variety and detail I was able to see and capture. Being out in all kinds of light and weather provided opportunities to learn to photograph in difficult situations.
All this meant I didn’t completely lose my connection with nature.
Again, Woodbury points out the importance of spirituality.
“If we have an appropriate spiritual container for processing this natural grief, then we will be transformed by the expression of our repressed grief. We will have greater joy. So…
Do not be afraid.”
The American Dream has become the natural world’s worst nightmare. We must rouse ourselves from this suicidal slumber…
Over the course of our lives, we have all repressed natural feelings of grief over our lost connection to nature herself, our true nature, and we all harbor deep fears as a result. When we get in touch with these feelings and fears, there is a tremendous release of tension, anxiety, and depression. If we have an appropriate spiritual container for processing this natural grief, then we will be transformed by the expression of our repressed grief. We will have greater joy. So…
Do not be afraid.
By acknowledging the losses we have experienced in relation to nature, by embracing our fears and seeing them as intelligent guides along our spiritual path, we have nothing more to lose, really, and everything in the world to gain.
Awaken and remember…
While it would be lovely if we would all awaken together, the truth of the matter is that we can only do this one mind at a time. No one will lead us out of this crisis to some new promised land. We will only emerge from the climate crisis by taking responsibility for it upon ourselves–by assuming authority for our own psychological state of well being, and by reconnecting to this amazing planet through our very personal connections to the natural world-no matter where we live-and to our collective psyche, which will look different for each one of us.