Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

intimacy with the land

If I choose not to become attached to nouns – a person, place, or thing – then when I refuse an intimate's love or hoard my spirit, when a known landscape is bought, sold, and developed, chained or grazed to a stubble, or a hawk is shot and hung by its feet on a barbed-wire fence, my heart cannot be broken because I never risked giving it away.

But what kind of impoverishment is this to withhold emotion, to restrain our passionate nature in the face of a generous life just to appease our fears? A man or woman whose mind reins in the heart when the body sings desperately for connection can only expect more isolation and greater ecological disease. Our lack of intimacy with each other is in direct proportion to our lack of intimacy with the land. We have taken our love inside and abandoned the wild.

- Terry Tempest Williams, An Unspoken Hunger

If there's one thing we've lost in the modern world, it's a connection with nature. For every technological wonder we accept into our lives, we take another step away from the created world. In doing so, suggests Terry Tempest Williams, we retreat from each other as well.

I don't think I completely agree with her. Certainly, if we are watching television or spending time at the computer, we are not spending time either with the land or with other people. Certainly, if we are talking on the telephone or typing our thoughts in a blog, we are not seeing people face to face.

On the other hand, the person on the phone or the person reading the blog is possibly in another city, another state, even another country. We may not have the opportunity to see them face to face. If I am only able to contact my family through electronic media except on rare occasions like holidays, maybe the technology is not a bad thing.

Still, I think Williams has hit on something that we often forget in the modern world. Technology has truly transformed our lives, though not always for the better. And the more time we spend in our climate-controlled homes, the more we lose sight of the fact that our lives are dependent on a healthy earth and a healthy ecosystem that can provide plants and animals for our nourishment. Forgetting that, we can easily rationalize the loss of wildlife habitat in the name of economic development.

Whether it's the controversy over spotted owls a decade ago, or today's push to drill for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, business interests want to portray the conflict as a matter of jobs vs. the environment. But there's something larger at stake. We've already caused a lot of damage to the environment, and we add more pollutants to the air and water every day. The more we damage the ecosystem, the more we imperil our own survival.

Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer
Almighty God, we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so that it might produce what is needed for life: Bless those who work in the fields; give us seasonable weather; and grant that we may all share the fruits for the earth, rejoicing in your goodness. Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



At 2/03/2006 10:48 AM, Blogger Questing Parson said...

You've touched a truth. Here I sit in Georgia reading and responding to you in Kansas, exchanging ideas, etc., and I've never met you. What a wonderful world we live in.

But here I sat this morning, supposedly completing Sunday's sermon, but actually day dreaming of sitting on a spit of land jutting out into Kachemak Bay in Home, Alaska. Last year I walked down that spit of land and spied a bald eagle. I sat down and began, ever so slowly, moving toward him, two feet every few minutes. I got within ten feet and decided that was far enough. He and I sat there together watching the ships come and go. It was a magical experience; it was a spiritual experience; it will never happen while I'm typing on this computer.

But the experience renewed me, renewed me enough that I could come back and be a better person here.

We're the creatures of two worlds, are we not.

At 2/04/2006 8:08 PM, Blogger BruceA said...

It truly is a small world. I know exactly the place you're talking about: I wpent to Homer back in 2002. I saw some eagles, but didn't get up close to them like you did. I took a ride across the bay in a water taxi and did some hiking in the mountains on the other side. Getting back into nature for even a short time is truly a way to reconnect with God.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home