Ecospirituality

Ecospirituality – sometimes also called spiritual ecology – is a relatively new branch of theology that’s increasingly a focus in mainstream religious traditions and the emerging interfaith community. It conjoins the empirical sciences of ecology and the essence of our communal quest for the Sacred. Ecospirituality is rooted within the fundamental belief that ALL of nature, our home planet Earth and the entire unfolding universe are Sacred.

Traditional notions of of the relationship between nature and spirituality are actually ancient and have been at the core of primal beliefs across indigenous peoples from continent to continent. Literally, it is the unfolding story of humankind’s understanding of it’s relationship to nature. From the ecospiritual perspective – God, Spirit, Ultimate Reality, Higher Power, the Divine…is not just Creator and Source of all creation. Whatever we consider “God” is, in fact, creation itself. Interacting with creation, therefore, is synonymous with interacting with God.

*The entire Universe is Divine. This includes you and me.

*The Old Testament’s Book of Genesis story of God giving “dominion” to humankind over the whole earth is repeatedly used to justify our use and abuse of planetary resources and co-inhabitants for millennia in the name of “development” and “progress.” The story presents a legacy of human to human and cross-species genocide all too often in the name of God.

*We are all interconnected.

*We are “all” in this together… all is inclusive – think humans, animals, fish, trees, plants, bees, insects, oceans, rivers, streams, bacteria and atomic particles.

*Ecospirituality considers the ethics of violence and sustainability. It considers ALL individuals as interconnected – a complex fabric of relationships with the group… groups with other groups… and the ethics of how all these relationships are bound to the environment within which they occur.

*Ecospirituality within the social justice conversations is pertinent interfaith dialogue.

*There are spiritual implications about our relationship with nature and the ways we collectively treat our planet and environment. Ecospirituality explores the relationship between life and lifestyle.

*Ecospirituality assumes a global response to multiple challenges from what to do with human and animal garbage to energy production and consumption to the consumption of materials.

*There is a profound relationship between “me” and “we.” That relationship has profound meaning for “us.”

*Ecospirituality can be seen as a new name for ideas that emerged in the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, Rachael Carson, Spinoza, Henry David Thoreau, Emerson and John Muir.

something to think about

Ecospirituality

Your Own Experience

Regardless of our individual spiritual opinions, we are the architects of our own experience.
From thoughts and feelings, beliefs and judgments, we create our meanings from limited perspectives.
We have control over life’s influences.
There are always choices. You are infinitely more powerful than you realize.
Conjure your vision and hold your purpose.
Plan knowing that life is change. It’a all process. Flow.
Believe in yourself.
Practice patience, moderation and concentration. Ask questions.
Find the resources that you need. Ask for help along the way. Share.
Beware fear, greed, narcissism and drama. Recognize opportunities disguised as loss.
Be open to moments of love and compassion. Accept and tolerate.
Forgive mistakes. Release anything or anyone rotting, decayed or superfluous.
Wander with awe, respect and dignity for all. You are not alone.
All is one. One is all. Unify.
You can change. You are resilient. Hope.

Know for sure you’ve only two choices: be the solution or be the problem.

Your Own Experience

All of Nature Has Soul

All of Nature Has Soul
by Rev. Richard Rohr
Meditation for Friday, February 6, 2015

“Love is a deep empathy with the other’s “Beingness.” You recognize yourself, your essence, in the other. And so you can no longer inflict suffering on the other.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Eco-spirituality allows you to start seeing your own soul imaged and given back to you in the soul of everything else, because people who have allowed their own soul to be awakened will recognize that soul in other places too! Soulless people will not see that. Once you are reconnected, it’s no longer a disenchanted universe, but in fact, quite the opposite.

If we realized we were connected, we could never have poured chemicals and pollutants into the rivers of the world. We could never have filled the earth with trash and garbage and eternal plastic and Styrofoam if we had experienced the soul of the world or if we had suffered, as the Latin poet Virgil wrote, “the tears of things.” But the material world was of no consequence to most of us. The world was just here as a backdrop while we humans tried to “get to heaven.” Please notice that the Bible ends with a promise of “a new heavens and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). The whole Earth and all of creation is participating in God’s loving redemption, liberation, and salvation. Stingy people manufactured quite a stingy God, whose love was anything but infinite, eternal, or perfect. As a result most people just lost interest. (If you doubt me, look at the dismal European and American statistics around religion.)

Our lovely theory of redemption increasingly applied to only humans, and then fewer and fewer of them. Once the scarcity model takes over, it just keeps moving! Later Christian history did not envision God saving humanity/history as a whole, but just individuals. The genius of the Hebrew Scriptures, which formed Jesus, was that God was saving Israel, history, humanity! It was very different from our much later notion of God saving isolated people here and there–because they were “nice,” and even that niceness was largely determined by the cultural and ethnic standards of each era. This was not necessarily a love of Jesus or a participation in God’s “salvation history”; it was getting Jesus to participate in our little project. We could not believe in God’s infinite victory, so we created a small victory where we could determine the outcome. We ended up with a simplistic reward/punishment contest at which very few would consider themselves even candidates for the contest.

Try reversing this oft used statement: “Jesus came to fulfill us” to “We have come to fulfill Christ.” We are each invited to offer our unique and little selves “to create a unity in the work of service and thus build up the Body” (Ephesians 4:12). We are part of a movement of the ever-growing Cosmic Christ that is coming to be in “one great big act of giving birth” (Romans 8: 22-23). In Christ, “everything is reconciled, in heaven and on Earth” (Colossians 1:17). The eternal Christ saves us all by including us all. And we are all saved, largely in spite of ourselves, by grace and mercy–no exceptions! That is the perfection of the divine victory.

So it’s not about being correct: it’s about being connected. When you are connected to the whole chain, held in the nest of being, you can easily live out of a worldview of infinite and divine abundance rather than a “not enough love to go around” model that only creates fearful, fighting, and stingy people, pushing themselves to the front of the line because they are afraid there is not enough of God to fill and free everything.

*Adapted from A New Cosmology: Nature as the First Bible
Copyright © 2015 Center for Action and Contemplation

All of Nature Has Soul

Animal Totems: Deer

Animal totems are symbols used throughout Aboriginal/Indigenous and Native American religious traditions. These cultures are deeply rooted in the sights and sounds; visions and voices of Nature. Their Pantheistic subtleties shape an ethics of living in harmony with the Sacred. Animal totems suggest a dimension of reality where people and animals, rocks and plants, rivers and fish, seasons and weather exist in synergy as one integrated whole. Indeed, animal totems are one piece in the mosaic of the emerging signs and symbols of ecospirituality.

I respect comparative religions as a foundation of interfaith theology and my ministry. The beliefs of a culture as reflected in it’s collective psyche and ethics are transmitted and sustained within myths, legends, signs and symbols. Totems offer glimpses and sometimes just shadows of another way or the other worldly.

To that end, consider the deer totem which has taken on significant meaning for me since the sudden death of my best friend several weeks ago. The deer is one symbol representing the profound transformation of our 27 year friendship from life through death to legacy.

Deer represent the spiritual realm.

The symbolic meanings of the deer honor a synergy of soft, gentle qualities with strength, determination and perseverance.
Deer have the flexibility to move through life’s obstacles with grace.
They understand both innocence and threat. Sensitive and intuitive with a keen sixth sense, deer are ever vigilant with the ability to change directions quickly.
Deer blend in with ease. They are humble. Deer help discern what actions should be taken with speed and agility.
They have special connections with children and persons with special needs.
They can touch the hearts and minds of the wounded without pushing change… rather gently nudging toward the better direction.
They are excellent mothers as they innately nurture yet benevolently defend with watchfulness. Deer are keenly sensitive to outside influences and often direct what happens behind the scenes with ease and serenity in chaos.
Deer are associated with the magical abilities to regenerate and are said to be in touch with life’s mysteries.
Their tranquility calms, soothes and satisfies.

*This post is dedicated to the spirit and memory of Sharon L. DeLuca. Rest in peace, my friend, until we meet again.

Animal Totems: Deer

Rainbow Bridge Prayer

Rainbow Bridge Poem
Rainbow Bridge Prayer

Pets have been an essential part of our human experience since prehistoric times. History suggests people and dogs have shared special bonds for at least 11,000 years. Asian dogs, African cats, Peruvian guinea pigs, Chinese goldfish, European polecats, Cuban birds, Syrian Hamsters – all have evolved toward domestication for the delight and special companionship of young and old.

We love our pets. Our pets love us.

Pets enrich our lives. Indeed, pets our truly beloved members of the family and integral to the herd. Many have told me that pets help motivate them out of bed in the morning and provide a consistent and predictable reminder that life is better not lived alone. Pets can help improve mood, enhance health and well-being, lower blood pressure, speed healing, boost vitality and actually lengthen the long term survival rates of heart attack patients.

I have witnessed the magic of pet therapy with severely disturbed children, recovering addicts and nursing home patients. The special bond between pets and caretakers inspires, redeems and ensures. Pets provide unconditional love and extraordinary acceptance without judgement. Their companionship soothes and protects.

The death of a pet can be devastating and profoundly painful. The hole left in the fabric of our lives can ache in our minds and in our hearts. Grieving the loss of a pet hurts. Although the emotional suffering varies from person to person, there is no one way or right way to grieve. We all need to find our own ways to say good-bye and make peace with the loss.

Spirituality and spiritual beliefs can provide meaning and comfort during these hours of need. I will not debate here whether animals have souls. However, I will share that I believe the same Life Force that created me and sustains me, so too, creates and sustains all of Creation. We are all in this together.

Prayers and blessings for pets who have died are simply a logical extension of my spirituality and my interfaith ministry. If this is in sync with you and resonates with your beliefs, please consider the Rainbow Bridge today… and whenever you might need it.

The Rainbow Bridge is a poem that appeared on the Internet and in some veterinary officers years ago. Its popularity has grown and is respected. Its author is still unknown although it was most probably written by Paul Dahm, a grief counselor from Oregon. Using the Viking myth of the Bifrost Bridge, the poem provides a compassionate metaphor of hope and consolation for those grieving the loss of a pet.

I have used The Rainbow Bridge both as a prayer and a blessing for my own pets and others’ pets who have died… after all… all pets do go to heaven!

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together. . .

*This post is dedicated to Plato, Precious, Francois and Marg – each of whom touched my soul and changed my life.

Rainbow Bridge Prayer

Ubuntu

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is an ancient African tribal word meaning human-ness; human kindness; humanity toward others; “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Ubuntu is our “interconnectedness.” Its the glue that holds us all together.

Ubuntu has evolved as a kind of philosophy…a way of life embracing “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

Ubuntu was introduced to the West by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, President Bill Clinton. Ubuntu has implications for interfaith approaches to spirituality, ecospirituality tolerance, peace and environmental stewardship.

“My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours… We belong in a bundle of life.” (Desmond Tutu)

“A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he/she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” (Desmond Tutu)

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” (Desmond Tutu)

“So Ubuntu — for us it means that the world is too small, our wisdom too limited, our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at other people’s expense. We have to now find a way to triumph together.” (Bill Clinton)

Ubuntu

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address (Prayer)

Native American 3 Sisters Legend - corn, beans, squash
Native American 3 Sisters Legend – corn, beans, squash
https://www.facebook.com/SpiritualEcology/photos/a.262921060479556.48404.261982733906722/608663009238691/?type=1&theater

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address (Prayer)

It is said as a daily sunrise prayer, and is an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and her inhabitants. The children learn that, according to Native American tradition, people everywhere are embraced as family. Our diversity, like all wonders of Nature, is truly a gift for which we are thankful.

When one recites the Thanksgiving Address the Natural World is thanked, and in thanking each life-sustaining force, one becomes spiritually tied to each of the forces of the Natural and Spiritual World. The Thanksgiving Address teaches mutual respect, conservation, love, generosity, and the responsibility to understand that what is done to one part of the Web of Life, we do to ourselves.

To read the entire Thanksgiving Address (Prayer) go to http://danceforallpeople.com/haudenosaunee-thanksgiving-address

With thanks to Curanderismo, the Healing Art of Mexico. Art: The Three Sisters, artist unknown.
According to Haudenosaunee legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together, http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.htm

*Thanks to All Paths Divinity School (my seminary) http://www.allpathsdivinityschool.org for sharing this post on Facebook.

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address (Prayer)