Eradicating Poverty of The Soul: Blog Action Day 2008

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

With all of the emphasis these days on the economic turmoil, cost of living, wars and presidential elections, it is all too easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of fear, anger, polarity and reactivity. Sure, there is plenty of blame to go around, from the greed of large corporations, to government deregulation and to consumers who have been out of control in their spending habits.

But outside of the once in a while editorial or for those of us who are spiritually inclined, how many people are willing to reflect on the tremendous cost we, countries, and the world have paid because of the disconnect to our essence, that of our souls?

Yes, I know. What I’m saying may sound hokey and New Age, I admit. But in truth, there is no other way of saying it. Unless enough individual in a grass roots/tipping point sort of way can ‘pass on the word’ to others that the connection to the the essence and the best of who we are is critical, then as a culture, we will continue to spiral down and live lives of craziness.

What does all of this have to do with nature? Plenty. As far back as primitive civilizations, humankind was deeply connected to nature and depended on the forces of it for survival. All of the fall celebrations were in thanks for the great bounties reaped from harvests. There was a deep appreciation and respect for the power of nature. Humans worked hand in hand with nature, in some sort of partnership to sustain and enrich their lives. They were in sync with nature and in no way felt that they had the power to control it.

Fast forward to where we are today as a culture: depleting our natural resources at accelerated rates. We are living lives of illusion thinking that being successful and having lota of things is going to make us happy: when, in fact, they can only momentarily fill the void we feel in the pits of our stomach. Before we give ourselves time to reflect, pause and ask ourselves: ‘Why, why are we living this way, we are on to the next goal, to acquire more and become more successful.

How often do we remember our readings of Thoreau or Emerson, both of whom extolled the virtues of nature? As Emerson wrote in Emerson’s Essays,

“These roses under my window make no reference to formers roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full blown flower there is no more; in the leafless rose there is no less. Its nature is satisfied and it satisfies nature in all moments alike. There is no time to it. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eyes laments the past, or heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”

And so it is. Until each individual connects and embraces nature, we will remained lost, angry and a people with no access to our hearts. We will continue to think that we are superior and that our brains can solve all the problems and that we can work our way out of this mess. We will continue to live as if ‘we can never have enough’: without any realization that in reality, we have way too much. What we are starving for is love, kindness and compassion towards ourselves and each other. We will continue to feel helpless and as if who we are and what we do can’t make a difference.  We will continue to live with the belief that ‘this is just the way it is’.

If only we paused and stopped running on our treadmills, metaphorically as well as literally, and took time to appreciate nature, whether it be taking a walk, sitting under a tree on a lunch break, gazing at birds and butterflies twittering about flowers, marveling at sunsets, snowflakes or rainbows, or put our hands in the soil and garden, how our perceptions of what is important in life could change. Once we made a commitment to doing this, even for 5 miniutes a day, how different life could be!

Eventually, the potential to make a significant shift in our inner compass would exist. The beauty of the trees, the dirt, stones on a pathway and shells on beaches could bring out an appreciation of the essence of life that was always deep inside of each one of us but that had not been accessed. That is the still small voice that was never extinguished: it just needed to rub up against something to help its flame burn more brightly.

And once this inner flame begins to burn with consistency, our outlook on life could change. Over time, the sense of our control over nature would become minimal and eventually vanish. Kindness towards other human beings would no longer be a rarity. Rather than honking our cars impatiently or not holding doors for others, we would slow down, greet others with a deep smile and implicity appreciate the uniqueness of all individuals.  We would know that we are all in this together and that each of our actions, every moment of every day, could make a difference. Rather than using water unconsciously, we would begin to take shorter showers and only water our trees and shrubs during a major drought.  We wouldn’t be turning on sprinklers to drench our lawns every morning. We would no longer use toxic pesticides that are poisoning our environment, humans, animal and plants. Kindess and compassion would become the lexicon of our cultures. Greed and the belief that materialism and success are what constitutes a meaningful life would be of the past. We would become conscious human beings rather than living our lives in ‘vertical coffins’.

Tell me, how did Americans come together during World War II and plant Victory Gardens to sustain themselves when there was a lack of food? With all of Jefferson’s many accomplishments, why did he want to be remembered as a man who tilled the soil? And Beethoven who wrote some of the most magnificent music of all times, why did he feel the need to spend quiet time in nature in order to create his music?

Appreciating and connecting with nature is a profound way to vanquish the poverty of our souls. It can change our lives and significantly help transform our collective unconscious and the meaning of life on this earth, not only for ourselves, but for others.

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Fran Sorin

Fran’s book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, now considered a classic, was groundbreaking when published as no one had written about gardening in the context of creativity, spirituality, and transformation.

In addition to being a recognized garden expert and deep ecologist, Fran is a broadcaster, journalist, Ordained Interfaith Minister, and Soul Tender.

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kouji haiku October 15, 2008, 1:54 pm

interesting. and the more we realize that we’re all tied together on this one little planet, maybe we can find more ways to help each other out.

for my part, i turn to sites like freerice (rice donation), kiva (microfinance), and goodsearch (donation per search), as ways to help alleviate poverty online. i also put up their banners on my blog. :)

saw this post via the front page of blog action day. it’s great that you’re participating. :)

Kouji Haiku-
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to post. Your suggestions of blogs for us to visit that help alleviate poverty online are greatly appreciated. Come back and visit soon. Fran

carolyngail October 15, 2008, 4:33 pm

Profound post, Frannie and so very true. While chivalry and decency may not be dead it has been badly beaten up.

I’ve found that those who commune with nature have rich lives. The most beloved artist of all time, Monet, stressed that he would never have been an artist if her weren’t a gardener first and it is so evident in his work.

Thank you for the part you are doing to make our world better.

Sweet Home and Garden Chicago-
And thanks for your lovely response. I totally forgot to mention Monet and never knew that he said those words, although I was aware of how much his gardens influenced his painting. And Giverny is one jewel of a garden! Fran

dosomegreen October 15, 2008, 9:05 pm

We totally agree that caring for the environment is a holistic issue. If we cared more about our fellow man, future generations, animal rights and everything that relies on the environment, and less about money the world would be a much cleaner, greener place. Please fill free to link to this entry and your blog from ours. We are located at http://www.dosomegreen.com, and our goal is to expand thinking on environmentalism.

Thanks for visiting GGW. It’s always nice to see a new ‘face’. And your words are appreciated. Have gotten onto your blog to check it out and it seems to be under construction but your intent is a good one. Will continue to check back to see what’s going on once it’s up and running. Fran

Ottawa Gardener October 15, 2008, 10:30 pm

I am so glad that I bumped into this blog and post so that I could participate (if just a bit late though on time) in bloggers action day. Thanks also to your post for pointing out something true (good ol’ Thoreau) that we need to remember to reconnect ourselves to this shrinking world.

Hey Ottawa gardener-
I’m glad that you found GGW, checked us out and participated in Bloggers Action Day. Thanks for your post and continue to come back and visit! Fran

Gail October 16, 2008, 8:58 am

Fran,

A very timely and beautiful essay. There are research studies (if folks need that kind of info) that show being in nature, even viewing nature is a healing experience. Heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension all normalize in a natural setting. The same individuals experienced positive feelings, less fear and aggression. The garden, a forest, a city park or even a hospital green space are all powerful healing places. Gardeners know this and experience their connection to nature every time we go into our garden. You are right, many people are disconnected from their essential core. Perhaps, we can take on a role to speak out in all manner of forums to help people reconnect to nature and themselves.

Thank you Fran…you make a fantastic community leader!

Gail

Gail-
Thanks for your meaningful words. I have read studies over the years showing the healing effects of gardens and greenery as well. And yes, I do believe that the more information that we all have on the powerful physical effects of gardens, the more likely that folks will take seriously the claims that so many of us who either garden and/or have a profound connection to nature have been making. Fran

Lola October 16, 2008, 9:44 pm

Yes, Thank You, Fran. Your thoughts & your words should be read throughout the world to make a person stop & think about what they are doing. If people continue to do as they are now they will destroy themselves & their world as they know it.

Lola-
Thanks Lola. Your words are appreciated. Fran

Sowing The Seeds October 23, 2008, 6:34 am

Wow, that was just so beautiful and emotive. Thankyou for bringing some warmth into my soul on a cold dark night :) I am looking forward to reading more of your writing.

Benjamin October 23, 2008, 10:42 am

I talk a lot about this sort of thing in my book manuscript, which WILL be done for a PhD defense in February, lord willing. I think at the crux of this is religion, and more to the point, western interpretations of religious ideas and texts that are historically male dominated and linked to capitalism / hierarchies. In itself, the Bible is a richly environmental text, as much as the Qu’ran or other holy texts from other cultures. Each culture believes in the sanctity of natural diversity not for it’s own sake, or for humanity’s sake, but because God made it, so it is right, essential, has–in many ways–it’s own soul. Recent green religious documents suggest that a new wave is happeneing in western Christian denominations, namely, that all of creation was saved with Jesus on the cross, redeamed, that creation (nature) IS as much the blood of Christ or part of God as humans (believe in this or not, it’s a radical interpretation of what the Bible really is). So, if it’s a sin to kill people, it’s a sin to kill trees (once in Germany, if you killed a tree you yourself were killed, and similar traditions can be seen in the Middle East and Africa). A good book to see all this change back to what really is in the books / religions that foreground our cultures is an anthology, This Sacred Earth by Roger Gottlieb. But anyway, it is true, the harm we do to oursleves and each other is the same harm we manifest outward–so we kill ourselves twice: first by war, child abuse, using drugs, denying our bodies, and then secondly by polluting our air and water and bringing an abbreviated end to natural selection and species and ecosystem redundancy. As you say, there IS a connection–our outward destruction is a manifestation of inward struggles with the perception of who we are, how we fit in. Our ability to reflect and think is a burden and an act of grace. It’s our responsibility and joy to be stewards, middleman, not lords of all we survey, and we’ve missintepreted / miss directed our longing and fear and desire and hope as self serving, when in fact, it’s something that serves all creation. Did I go on too long? I enjoyed your Emerson quote, and may steal it, btw.

Benjamin-
No, you didn’t write too much at all. I actually got a chill in my body when I read what you wrote. Your thoughts are getting right to the ‘bones’ of things. I concur totally on what you said and so appreciate the manner in which you are able to express yourself. I will absolutely check out the book Roger Gottlieb that you mentioned as well as the one you mentioned in the post to Saxon. With great appreciation….Fran