The Earth is protesting its treatment
If everything went as planned Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on Climate Change was officially made public this week. In it he lays blame for the current crisis squarely at the feet of human activity and says that “the Earth is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her.” He addresses the whole human race and calls for changes in lifestyle and in government policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for a kind of super UN to oversee just this one issue. All observers assume that the encyclical’s release is timed just prior to his trip to the United States in September and shortly before the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held outside Paris from November 30-December 15th. (encouraging note: several environmental organizations say that there is “strong reason for optimism” that the world’s nations will be able to arrive at a legally binding and universal agreement on climate.)
Zoom in now to the goldfish and frog pond that Linda and I enjoy on our property. A few Sundays ago I mentioned to Linda that I was feeling very tired and wanted to take a break the next day. Now we know that taking a break and Mondays don’t go together very well and might need divine intervention for justification but that’s where I was. Sitting opposite me on a boulder that forms one bank of the pond was one of our largest frogs roughly the size of an average human fist. Usually our froggies head for cover as soon as they hear our footsteps. We can count our frogs by the number of plops we hear as we encroach on their territory. It was very unusual then for many of them to be sunbathing on the rocks and to stay there while we made our visit.
My frog friend turned after a minute or so and stared directly at me from across the pond. I in turn stared back. It’s not every day that I stare into a frog’s eyes and I wondered what the cute little critter was thinking. Suddenly he dove into the water and swam purposefully over to where I was standing. He climbed out of the pond and stood at my feet looking up at me. There we stood communing with each other for maybe three minutes. Because of my background in shamanic practice, I knew that this was not just a chance occurrence. When it’s this dramatic, there’s a message. Spirit is present in all creatures and we are connected by an energetic web of what Buddhists call interbeing. I soon learned that Frog’s association with water give her a healing medicine of cleansing energy and that if Frog had made a special visit today it meant that you should take a break! This was all the divine intervention I needed and so I proceeded to enjoy a day of relaxation that Monday.
Without shamanic awareness this encounter might easily have been described and dismissed with words like “Hey a frog came over and sat at my feet today. Pretty cool, huh?” With shamanic awareness I was able to see the hand of Spirit.
This is the awareness that we need to have in the days ahead as we humans try to save our planet, and ourselves in the process. (At the current rate of extinction of species, humanity itself will be extinct in as short a time as 2085. Half the animal species on the planet are already extinct) Environmental issues are spiritual as well as political. As the Native Americans say, what the white man views as resources, the red man sees as kin. We need these new eyes for the journey ahead.
(Bill O’Brien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )