You may be wondering, what’s the point of these weekly reflections? Just to get you to live more healthily, sustainably, and more directly connected with Gaia, who you are part of and who provides you with life? To make you aware of how difficult the future is going to be? To get you to understand that together, we might make it less difficult, even purposeful? To get us to serve Gaia above ourselves? I hope those themes have been coming across, but that’s not the point. There are enough articles along those lines written every day. I am not sure one more each week is needed. But what is needed is to actually start forming communities of people who recognize Gaia’s peril and want to devote themselves to healing Her (and build the foundations for a future where Gaia and people are again in living in healthy partnership).
How do we do that? Step one is to see who is interested. To gather online to see if there are individuals reading this that would want to have a conversation—once and even regularly. And then hopefully, if there is more than one individual in a geographic location, meet physically with other Gaians in your area.
There is a line from The Gospel of Matthew that shapes Quaker belief and their philosophy of simple gatherings without clergy:
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20).
That’s it exactly. Wherever there are two or three people who understand that Gaia is a living being, that we are part of Her, and that we depend utterly on Her, there is a community of Gaians. Specific beliefs, rituals, languages, or anything else may help reinforce those bonds, but ultimately it is just that simple awareness and connection—that shared purpose—that can be the foundation for a Gaian community.
My hope, in sharing a weekly Gaian Reflection, is to spark the connecting of Gaians. Yes, online, for this is a tool that we have access to today. But especially in real space—geographically bounded, as churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and Quaker meetings have done for centuries. Not just for the sake of gathering. But to support each other—in our efforts to live simply, and to simply live. In our efforts to raise good children who will be able to survive the difficult times ahead, to celebrate with each other, to help each other heal as tragedies strike (whether personal or societal), and to spread the message to others in the community. Maybe that’s too much to ask. But I don’t think so. It is the fact that we’re not asking enough of ourselves that is the problem.
Our culture currently absolves us of responsibility of the ecocide we are contributing to if we buy LED lights, green cleaners, a hybrid car, offset our flights, use renewable energy to electrify our homes, and eat less meat. We all know that’s not going to save us. Even ambitious political plans like the Green New Deal are not realistic (anything based on continued growth or even consumption at our current rate is an ecological impossibility).
Instead, we need to recognize that the Sustainability Crisis is a Cultural Crisis and that the solution is deep levels of cultural change. Gaians, as Quakers did with abolition and civil rights, could play an instrumental role in driving that change—egged on by their spiritual commitment, and by the support of their spiritual community. Of course, that community currently doesn’t exist. But it could—wherever there are two or three of us. And my hope is that it will.
Naturally, that is daunting. To gather online with a bunch of strangers, hoping they feel similarly about being part of Gaia and wanting to collaborate to heal Gaia. But recently On Being’s Krista Tippett referred back to a conversation she had with John Lewis and that took away some of this fear. As Tippett noted, “what they had to do mentally was to live as if…the beloved community was there; it was the true reality and the true wholeness, and you had to act accordingly, even if what was in front of you didn’t correspond to that reality.”
“I discovered that you have to have this sense of faith that what you’re moving toward is already done. It’s already happened…. And you live as if you’re already there, that you’re already in that community, part of that sense of one family, one house. If you visualize it, if you can even have faith that it’s there, for you it is already there. And during the early days of the movement, I believed that the only true and real integration for that sense of the beloved community existed within the movement itself. Because in the final analysis, we did become a circle of trust, a band of brothers and sisters.
My hope is that one day Gaians, too, will become a beloved community, working toward healing Gaia together, around the world, supporting each other, and drawing in others who also come to understand that they, too, are Gaians. In the coming weeks, I’ll describe what a local Gaian group might look like. And in mid-January, I invite you to join me for our first online conversation, and if there are others on the call from your locality, to set up a local gathering group.