WILLIAM EDELEN: Earth Day — A Love Affair With Nature…


The Contrary Minister

“…we have come to know what it means to be custodians of the future of the Earth — to know that unless we care, unless we check the rapacious exploitations of our Earth and protect it, we are endangering the future of our children and our children’s children. We did not know this before, except in little pieces. People knew that they had to take care of their own… but it was not until we saw the picture of the Earth, from the Moon, that we realized how small and how helpless this planet is — something that we must hold into our arms and care for.” -Margaret Mead

Earth Day is fast approaching, and for some strange cosmic reason, it is always “nature” that fills me with the most poetic love.

I realize that the writers and thinkers, the philosophers and mystics, who have most inspired me gave been those who brought me closer to nature and the natural world. Thomas Paine wrote “men and books lie… only Nature never lies.” And so it is. I have absorbed the thoughts of Annie Dillard… Loren Eiseley… Lauren van der Post… Goethe on “nature”… and Joseph Wood Krutch among many other men and women who have reminded me that I am a part of the natural world and the animal kingdom as Homo sapiens, but so human and animal.

I will never forget how Joseph Wood Krutch came into my life. It was in the basement of the library at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I lived in veteran’s student housing on the campus. We were in tornado alley, as they called it then… and still do. It was a night when we were surrounded by tornados. The sirens screamed and everyone went to the basement of the library. I grabbed a new book on way out of my apartment. It was “The Voice of the Desert” by Joseph Wood Krutch. When the “all clear” finally came, I had read the entire book. I knew that I had discovered a most brilliant observer of the natural world and our place in it. How well I remember to this day one chapter on the “Yucca and the Moth.” It is nature’s most perfect symbiotic relationship. The Yucca and the moth, Pronuba yuccasella, live for each other. As I am writing these words, I look out of my study doors at the spectacular creamy white blossoms of the Yucca in my yard and I thank the moth who made all of this beauty possible. If you would like to read the insights of this man I would suggest you start with “The Twelve Seasons.” A sample: “No government subsidized commission of engineers or physicists can create a worm.”

It is in the early morning hours when my mind/spirit/soul best absorbs the truth and the beauty of these insights into the natural world where truth is to be found. It has always been my favorite time of the day. It is the time of day that can distinguish coarseness from a divine refinement. It is the time of day when a person can look deeply into himself, or herself, and see things and not be fooled. It is the time of day when your vision is clear and the direction of your energies comes into focus. Values and priorities become sharper, issues more clear, right decisions more obvious, and the day begins on a high and noble plane. You are in harmony with yourself and the world.

Erasmus wrote: “The muses love the early morning, as that is the perfect time for thoughts and study.” Thomas Jefferson wrote that he always arose at first light and walked “to enjoy the freshness of the new dawn.” Frank Dobie, the brilliant iconoclast of the University of Texas, wrote that, “he took predawn coffee with Montaigne or Plato and would not wilt the freshest part of the day with the banalities of the news.”

How well I remember the week I spent with Buckminster Fuller. He stood silently every morning at first light, facing east for about five minutes in meditation. There is beauty… quiet… harmony and tranquility at this magnificent time of the day. The natural world in this little part of the cosmos is preparing to receive the life-giving rays of the morning sun. The juices of life are flowing. It is the time of day when I most clearly remember that we are living in a world of wonder and miracles. How is it that we are all connected in some marvelous and mysterious way to the cosmic dance of life?

The Earth Day celebrations remind me that we live in the midst of, and are supported by, mysteries beyond our comprehension.

In “Frontiers of Astronomy,” Fred Hoyle wrote: “The universe is everything both living and non-living… both atoms and galaxies. The spiritual and material one ONE. The Universe is a totality of all things.”

Beyond our senses lies a plane of consciousness in which all is related and all is one and all is now. The energy of sun dancing in wood burning fire… a cucumber cucumbering… a flight of geese honking into a north wind… a rising tide crashing and breaking against a resisting beach… a wild stallion with nostrils bugling the pride of the free racing to his mare… mist covering hemlock and pine… a cougar stalking fresh spoor on a mountain trail. It is all one… all natural… all sacred and all divine and all revealed images of the great Mystery that saturates the universe.

My thoughts for Earth Day put my existence in perspective. It is a reality check. All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring their connectedness with each other and the earth. We honor the earth by being aware and doing our part to protect all life on it. We are all family… my little Shih-Tzus are my brothers… my glorious Yucca is my sister… on some profound level.

“The greatest beauty is organic wholeness…
The wholeness of life and things…
The divine beauty of the universe…
Love that… not man apart from that”
-Robinson Jeffers