Yes, I mean that in the most hyphenated way. But a happy (is that the greeting?) Earth Day just the same.
It is a lovely spring day where we live. High 60s, sunny and no wind. It is pure pleasure to step outside, feel the sun, walk barefoot in shaggy green grass and breathe in fresh air.
At the same time, another denizen of nature, a virus, is playing in my respiratory system. It’s making the simplest things miserable.
I suspect that our son’s autism is another gift from Mother Earth. We took part in a major University of California study that found no single causal factor for autism. It isn’t a result of this or that human disharmony with the planet – it’s just something that occurs as part of what this world is and does. We don’t really create all of the problems, anymore than we can exert 100% control over them.
So, I was waiting for the bus with the kid this April morning, hacking and snorting with my virus while he sought to engage me in a discussion of what he wants for Christmas. The virus and the cadences of autism sent me into one of those mental zones where humor is the only escape, and I got the giggles over a chant that some neo-hippies used to do at a summer camp where I counseled. It was supposed to be Native American but I think it was really a White suburban hippie creation and, because of its repetitive composition, possibly autistic:
The Earth is our Mother… The Earth is our Mother…
So I chuckled as that coursed through my virus impaired senses and the kid prattled on about VHS for Christmas. And of course I amused myself by altering the chant to the title of this post, The Earth is a Mother – … The Earth is a Mother -…
The Earth is full of good and beautiful gifts, an amazing and delicate array of factors that make our lives possible, sustainable and pleasurable. But it is also full of indifferent and maybe even evil stuff that would just as soon see us dead. In fact, it is part of Earthly life to wither and die.
The weeds grow alongside the pretty bushes and flowers and cushy grass. Care giving is a prolonged exercise in nurturing life while weeds spring up. It takes the romance out of things, because happy illusions get overgrown by reality.
Some days the challenges bring out the devil in me. In other moments, the Earth being a Mother- puts me in touch with a love that gets me out of my little self and, for a bit, into a place of peace and joy,
Yet my wings were not meant for such a flight –
Except that then my mind was struck by lightning
Through which my longing was at last fulfilled.
Here powers failed my high imagination:
But by now my desire and will were turned,
Like a balanced wheel rotated evenly,
By the love that moves the sun and the other stars
(Dante, Paradiso XXXIII)