Today is the celebration of Lammas, the Grain Festival–or how I often have thought of it here in North America–the Corn Festival. This is the time when local corn on the cob is finally ready! In its European origins, “corn” meant wheat, and it was a celebration of the wheat harvest, complete with Lammas breads eaten during the rituals. But lately, I have been following a mostly grain-free eating plan–no wheat, no gluten, and no corn. So how might I celebrate Lammas?
I am planning to go outside for a fire this evening. We had our first fire in our fire circle on the new moon on July 23rd. (the photo is from that fire) A fire always feels like an invocation of the sacred. Perhaps it would work also to celebrate with nuts and fruits, which are like grain in that they are the seeds of the plant. They are freely gifted by the plants to human beings. All cultivated plants co-evolved with human communities. So perhaps tonight I will celebrate that partnership between human beings and plants!
Today, as I walked in the woods, I was suddenly seeing all the leaves budding open as if they were little solar energy panels for the plants and trees–only much more beautiful and efficient than the solar energy panels we humans are able to make. We are in those weeks when the plants are waking up and starting their solar production once more. And our own celebration is to make a decision about solar energy, so that panels can be put on our roof as soon as possible.
Last week, we had a roofing company come to replace all the worn shingles, so the roof would be ready. Then we read solar proposals and asked questions, and tried to decide between some great local companies who are installing solar panels in our area. That was the toughest part of the decision. We also took into consideration the total life cycle environmental impact of the panels themselves, and that helped us to choose SolarWorld panels which are made in the United States, and score high on all measures of environmental accountability and worker treatment. Who knew there were so many factors to consider?
Meanwhile, my time has been very busy with church work, and I am sorry to have neglected this blogging. Yesterday, I preached on a topic related to Faith Climate Action Week, and found this quote by Gus Speth, a U.S. advisor on climate change:
“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”
It is good to be serving a congregation that is interested in such a cultural and spiritual transformation! They support the changes Margy and I are making, and many other families are also asking how they can lower their carbon footprint. We give each other hope and strength.
Since my last posting, so much has happened with the book that it is a new being. Last summer I cut up my draft, and rearranged everything, cut many things, and shaped it into a new kind of flowing. I also update the sub-title, and decided to use that for the blog as well. I am on sabbatical now, and revising and editing, and trying to begin a book proposal to find a publisher. The revising and editing is a joyful process, but the proposal is very hard. It is a great challenge to the ego–who am I to share my words with the world? Hard to describe the book in a few words, hard to describe myself in a few words, hard to imagine how to “market,” when what comes up in my heart is the desire to transform the world so that we rediscover our connection to all beings. The process of writing has also brought me more deeply into the brokenness we live within.
I have been thinking I might come back to some occasional posting here, just to remind myself of the marvelous wisdom all around us. Today I am excited about a book by Robin Wall Kimmerer which I just recently started reading, called Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. I felt such a great sense of kinship with the writing in this book, and inspired by the stories she tells, and the possibilities of learning from so many of our fellow beings on this earth. I have read several chapters so far, and am savoring each one. Get this book!
Remember the sky you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories…
Remember you are all people and that all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you…
I think it was Laguna Pueblo author, Paula Gunn Allen, who said it, but now I can’t find the original quote. She said something like this: “Many people think of consciousness as an attribute of being human, but we know that consciousness is an attribute of being.”
I have been intrigued and transformed by her observation. What might it mean that human beings are not alone in perceiving, in awareness, in communication? Sometimes the scientists ask those questions about beings most like humans—the apes, the dolphins, the dogs. But beyond that—and not even merely for beings with eyes as we know them? I think about it. Trees are sensitive to light and plants turn toward the sun. Isn’t it less lonely to imagine that trees, birds, water, and stones are conscious, too.
Our culture has wanted to feel that human beings are unique. That we are above the rest of the created world, special. Even in our growing ecological understanding there is a sense that we are the privileged children of the universe. I think it was Carl Sagan who said it, though many ecologists have echoed the sentiment: “We are the universe becoming conscious of itself.” And it is a tremendous gift that we are able to perceive and explore and study the universe of which we are a part. But how do we know that we are the only ones? How do we dare to assume that we are the only ones? Why would we want to be the only ones?
I want to stay with this thought for a few days, and see what changes if we change that one assumption. If we open to the idea that being itself includes consciousness.
Photo by Margy Dowzer