(An espresso version of my last week’s sermon)
The subject of climate change seems to hit a dead nerve with many people. We know we are headed for disaster if we don’t change what we are doing, but we are so overwhelmed by guilt and fear that lectures and statistics only drive us deeper into our numbness. Is there any way to wake us up in time?
Whenever human beings go into denial about something, there is usually a deep conflict going on far below our level of awareness. Perhaps the problems that keep us from confronting environmental degradation go much deeper than discussions of carbon foot prints. Perhaps there is a wound in our deep unconscious sense of who we are in relation to the earth. Perhaps the way to reawaken our dead nerve tissue is to reanimate our sense of belonging to the earth. Perhaps if we can feel our roots we will find the courage to make the sacrifices that will save us.
Psalm 19 is a song of the earth that says the stars make manifest their sacred source. The Psalmist says we ourselves feel that same law written within ourselves. Immanuel Kant said the same thing when he asserted that the two things that eternally fill the human mind with wonder are “the starred heavens above, and the moral law within. “ We emerge from the earth and bear its fingerprint in every part of our being.
We in the west have been taught a myth of creation that haunts theist and atheist alike. We tend to see ourselves as objects placed in the cosmos rather than emanations coming out of it. We see matter as a stupid and inert material out of which to build. If we emerge out of nature like a flower from the soil, then the universe is more that our raw lumber. It is the womb out of which we emerge at conception, it is our parent that whispers to us throughout life, and it is the home to which we return at death. Humankind is not like a tree house built upon the tree of life. Like Jesus said we are a the branches of one vine.
In speaking of entropy Jeremy Rifkin said that such basic physical laws must be felt as well as understood. Perhaps the Psalmist is saying the way to awaken our species is to sing the song of the Earth. Perhaps we need not only to preserve the species, but to dance to the pulse of life beating in the blood of a whale, in the heart of a humming bird and in us. Perhaps when we look at the periodic chart, we should not deem it a mere chemical formula, but as the sheet music of a cosmic hymn.
(The full sermon can be found at Staopen.com.)