We just landed from a wild ride of mourning the destruction of sanctuary space in the hot month of Av, of repenting/reflecting/purifying in the cooling month of Elul during the High Holy days, and then gratefully & joyously celebrating the bountiful harvest during Sukkot remembering that regardless of our seeming material abundance, we still just live in a fragile shack in the wilderness as we enter the rainy season. I pause now in this moment of deep spacious emptiness and honor this darkness as an important phase before our upcoming Festival of Lights.
As I feel this increasing darkness on a visceral level of my tiny solar system battery running low (this rough draft is written by LED lantern) and a corresponding time of solitude due to inexplicable circumstances, I have decided the best thing I can do is to befriend this (albeit unwelcome) companion. As beloved teacher Shoshana Cooper once taught me to welcome in all difficult experiences, emotions, feelings, energies to my table. So in the spirit of hospitality, I offer this dark loneliness the best nervine tea I have (from summer garden's calendula, oatstraw, skullcap, lemon balm, and heal all), I feel into its presence. What messages does it bring? What do I bring it? What does it need? What do I need? How can we relate? What exchange can occur between us that benefits all?
This week's Parsha 'Noach,' is about an interesting time on earth his/herstory. As I have learned to look at time as described in scriptures according to geologic time, this particular flood matches up pretty well with when the most recent ice age was in mid recession (@5-7,000yrs ago).. All life that could not retreat south in time or find an 'arc to be on was washed away in the rising ocean water of melting glaciers. The storytellers claim that this flood was due to the vast amount of wicked humans that resided on Earth at this time. I cannot help but think to this interglacial period we are in now as sea levels rise from anthropogenically accelerated melting glaciers and wonder about the pattern here. For over a century geologists have wondered what is the relationship between humans and the earth's geology? In the scientific community there has been much discussion of what to name this time period in accordance with previous titles such as: Cenozoic, Mesozoic, and Paleozoic eras. It has been proposed that we humans could potentially consciously choose to prescribe a life enhancing, regenerative future for life on earth, thereby naming it the Ecozoic era. We know humans have been an anthropogenic geologic force for at least six millennia. We have already as a species permanently altered organic geology through quarries, mines, wells, diversions, canals, dams, tunnels, roads, excavations, sedimentation, dredging, landfills, junk yards, bombs, nuclear waste.. (http://ecozoictimes.com/groping-our-way-toward-a-new-geologic-era-2/) Thomas Berry, cultural historian and ecotheologian, suggests that we can cocreate this ecozoic era through seeing Earth as primary, celebrating the progress of all life on Earth in harmony, reducing domestication and increasing assistance of Earth's wild intelligence, caring about the eco-nomic health of the planet (the Gross earth product), realizing that killing the planet via geocide is a crime, and seeing the earth as living scripture. (http://www.lightparty.com/Visionary/EcozoicEra.html)
I wonder what percentage of people on Earth know about the seriousness of this 6th Great Extinction that we are currently experiencing. According to a study published in Science Advances, the current extinction rate cold be more than 100 times higher than normal and that’s only taking into account the species we know the most about.(http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150623-sixth-extinction-kolbert-animals-conservation-science-world/) I understand the metaphor of Noa as the tribe of two-leggeds who are conscious of the situation and hear the call to create an Arc with our lives. This Arc must have enough room for all the other creatures to be able to survive and procreate. Nehemiah (by the way) Noa's wife was in the boat basement lined with side windows, tending a plant nursery of all flora and fauna on earth. I ask myself on a daily basis as I feel into the increasing darkness and solitude, how am I making my life an arc; a home for all the other species beyond two-leggeds? And it is part of my responsibility to also tend to my fellow two-leggeds; so I ask how do I hold space for the mentally unstable, physically unsteady, the infirmed, the elderly, those of minority sexual orientation, those whose skin color does not match the dominant (though rapidly shrinking) white hue of bubbled privilege.. I feel out to all the refugees and look around this 22ft diameter yurt occupied only by a feline (Queen Tzimtmai), a few spiders, and I wondering what is home; Home to my physical, emotional, spiritual, tribal being? How can all these parts be met to then provide for others?
I read ancestral stories, knowing that so much is missing and wonder about the details of the dove, the olive branch, and the rainbow. Since girlhood with unicorns and silk mobiles (go 80's!), then adolescence at rainbow gatherings and young adulthood at queer gatherings, rainbows have symbolized equality to me. In the science of optics when the visible light section of the electromagnetic spectrum hits something more dense in its path, it bends, thereby breaking its unified form into individual segments i.e. colors of the rainbow. What does it mean to bend like that; like the willows we hit on the ground under the Sukkah on Hoshanah Rabbah asking for any part our beings that were not purified during Teshuvah time to be cleansed so we may be worthy of the rain? What is it like to bend to allow whatever we come into contact with to shape how we emanate light in the world? I look and feel into the spaces between the letters, moments, relationships, gatherings, festivals, seasons, the death of our ancestors and birth of our offspring, the native people who once occupied this land and settlers who dominate the land now, the generation dying and being born now, between us & those who will be born in seven generations.
I breathe into this space. I plant flower and garlic bulbs here, rake leaves from this space and surround my nest with them. Later in this parsha the Tower of Babel is mentioned in which people are speaking 70 different languages, each understanding what it means to be human on earth in a different way. I wonder if this tower is akin to the skyscraper empire built on the backs of ecosystems and people often unable to live on their ancestral homeland. Perhaps this time is similar to the one described in Noach in which the earth is in need of a great cleanse? One may ask how have we as a species become so 'wicked?' How is that we two-leggeds created such a mess that our tweaked living systems which support our lifestyles, damage the habitat & lives of other earth community members (I.e our waste goes into drinking water, we release carbon dioxide on a daily basis, fragment corridor....)
As I watch the Chesvan moon grow, listen to the geese migrating, and feel the bumpy roots of burdock as they emerge from soil, I know that I need to remain on the edge of humanity in order to not succumb to its wicked ways. Noa may not have been righteous but only seemed so in comparison to what was going on around him. What does it look like to build an arc with one's life, to listen to the original instructions beyond the need to payback graduate school loans or save money for future generations? Perhaps a start is to save the living library of this geological corridor where frack lines cannot enter, to grow soil, remain firm in saying 'no' our lifestyle does not require more oil so it is not ok to drill in the arctic, speak out against escalating violence habit patterns due to generations of institutionalized racism. I wonder since we as a species came from the African continent, is not racism a vestige of self hatred; a rejection of part of our original selves we have not truly encountered, honored and reclaimed?. To avoid the overwhelmingness of this task I break it down into simple steps like learning to tend my altar. I remember my ancestors need a foothold in this world and even if I don't follow all of their wisdom, I can help hold space for them. I choose to hold hands with redbreasted nuthatch, the milkweed, the mountain ash, the soil microbes as much as with the few humans who recognize each other in our hearts' eyes and acknowledging, 'yes we are a tribe to nurture this ecotopia'. And to those I feel so separate from, I lean in and feel that space between us with curiosity and an open heart listening, offering tea and a bowl of wild applesauce.