From Despair to Creativity and Hope

Gunthers tree frog in the Amazon

This week I found myself falling into despair after hearing that the one of the largest dams in the world, Belo Monte, has been approved to move into production on the Amazon in Brazil. This will directly impact the indigenous peoples of the region and force many species into extinction. Coupled with the road now being planned to traverse the Serengeti, affecting the migrating patterns of all those wild creatures who roam that landscape, I wept for the lack of vision from our global political leaders who endorse these large-scale projects, bought and paid for by transnational corporations seeking ever more profit. What came to my mind/heart was “With no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) I fear that this is the road we are traveling down and grieve for my little grandnephews and future generations.

However, today I finally read the latest issue of On Earth, the NRDC’s (National Resources Defense Council) quarterly membership magazine. I’ve been a financial supporter for years, do my share of on-line activism, and today I am grateful and inspired to read of so much creativity being birthed through people, every day, on the ground in their communities. From “Planting The Trees of Life” in Haiti, the creation of a new “Green Chemistry” program at UC Berkeley (For designing new products with no toxic chemicals. Imagine that!) to a young woman, Molly Rockamann, who is training people of all ages to learn organic farming in Missouri. Rockamann also founded EarthDance which distributes the food from the 14-acre plot through a CSA (community sponsored agriculture) to the community at large. Ingenuity. Creativity. Hope.

These are but a few examples of the “Great Work” of our time to quote the late eco-theologian Thomas Berry. In his book of the same name, he writes, “We cannot doubt that we too have been given the intellectual vision, the spiritual insight, and even the physical resources we need for carrying out the transition that is demanded of these times, transition from the period when humans were a disruptive force on the planet Earth to the period when humans become present to the planet in a manner that is mutually enhancing. (p.11) Our political leaders may not have vision but we the people do and it is rising out of the necessity for our very survival. We have our creativity. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. It has been said that the change we need in the world will emerge, ground up, instead of coming down via those in traditional leadership roles. Although we–and this planet–desperately need change in our political system as well, until that occurs it is going to be up to each of us to co-create new structures and ways of being in our communities. In his book, Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken writes of the nearly 2 million individuals and organizations working toward ecological sustainability and social justice. This gives me hope.

It still grieves me that polar bears will likely go extinct in my lifetime, as will many other species. And there will be more suffering as people learn to adapt to the changing climate but on a good day, I believe in the creativity of the human spirit. And today, I guess that is as good as it gets.

For love of the EARTH!

Opening the Heart: The Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor

The month of May slipped by without my monthly newsletter taking form. I love painting portraits through language as well as through visual art but felt at a loss for words this past month, so I flowed with life and simply rested in the heart and less in the mind. I have been reworking the painting shown here adding vines to the cool, stone wall, giving it more life while reflecting on the Andean “Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor,” on which the painting is based. It was five years ago in May that I went on pilgrimage to the Andes and spent time in ceremony with the local, indigenous peoples of that sacred landscape. (Read more here) Our journey was indeed a meeting of the eagle and the condor.

The prophecy story relates that in the beginning all the earth’s people were one, but long ago they divided into two groups, and each one followed a different path to development. The people of the Eagle became highly scientific and intellectual, indicative of a masculine energy. This would represent those of us living in the industrialized West. Whereas, the people of the Condor became highly attuned to nature and the intuitive realm, or what might be the feminine energy. This refers to the indigenous peoples-or the people of the heart.

The ancient prophecy also speaks to the time we are in now when civilization is on the brink of collapse as seen in the economic, social, and ecological crises.

The prophecy says that at this time in the earth’s history, the Eagle people and the Condor people will rejoin. Remembering that they are one people, they will reconnect, remember their common origin, share their knowledge and wisdom, and save each other. The eagle and condor will fly together in the same sky, wing to wing, and the world will come into balance after a point of near extinction. Neither the eagles nor the condors will survive without this collaboration, and from this rejoining of the two peoples, a new alloy consciousness will emerge that honors the Eagle people for their remarkable accomplishments of the mind, and honors the Condor people for the deep wisdom of the heart. Together-and only together-the crisis will be resolved and a sustainable future will emerge for all.

I’ve been noticing where the spirit of the Condor is showing up and where it needs to weave its way more fully into our rationally-minded Eagle consciousness as well as into the activism many of us are engaged in on behalf of life on Earth. I recently attended the “Washed Ashore” gala fundraiser at PCC Sylvania. (Click here for more information.) The sculptural exhibit is centered around huge sea creatures made entirely from plastics washed ashore on Oregon beaches. They are beautiful yet clearly reflect back to us our role in this crisis. We see our shampoo and water bottles, flip flops, toothbrushes, etc. It can feel overwhelming. Many representatives from environmental organizations spoke during the event and while the data is essential, I believe that until we can bring these issues into our hearts and remember our interconnectedness with all life, change will be slow. I was honored to lead a water blessing ceremony with several women from my spiritual community, People of the Heart, which allowed those present to express their love and gratitude to the oceans and ask for forgiveness. Drawing on a Hawaiian chant, Ho’oponopono, this simple ceremony opened the hearts of the people in the audience to the crisis of plastics in the oceans. Many were moved to tears. For me, this is an example of how we can bring the wisdom of the Eagle together with the compassion of the Condor, both of which are needed to inspire us to move towards action.

Art and ceremony are two powerful ways to open and inspire the heart. What are the ways in which you are seeing the energies of the Eagle and the Condor coming together in your life and/or work? As always, I welcome your thoughts.

For love of the EARTH!


In Praise of Water (excerpt)
-John O’Donohue

Let us bless the grace of water:

The imagination of the primeval ocean
Where the first forms of life stirred
And emerged to dress the vacant earth
With warm quilts of color.

The courage of a river to continue belief
In the slow fall of ground,
Always falling farther
Toward the unseen ocean.

Let us bless the humility of water,
The buoyancy of water
The innocence of water,
Flowing forth, without thought
Of what awaits it.

Water: voice of grief,
Cry of love,
In the flowing tear.

Water: vehicle and idiom
Of all the inner voyaging
That keeps us alive.

Blessed by water,
Our first mother.