This is the 104th Gaian Reflection. That means there have been two full years of weekly essays, grappling with different facets of what it means to be part of a living Earth—a system, a holobiont, a being that is bigger than us in both the literal and figurative senses of the word. Essays on how to live knowing that (or at least grasping at that), and to understand that Gaia is changing, and yes, suffering. And on how to be present in both the wonder and horror of our current moment in time. And on how to grow a community from this shared understanding of and shared connection with the Earth.
Reflecting, I realize I’ve often used stories to communicate the Gaian Way—whether new stories or new looks at ancient stories from Zen, Christianity, or even modern classics like The Lorax. I’ve shared some playful ecocentric meditations inspired by ancient wisdom and practices; and tried to seed some Earth-cycle reverent holidays and sacred time (like monthly full moon fasts, a summer solstice silence, and an Earth Overshoot Day practice). And finally, I’ve grappled often with the shared civilizational liminal period that is COVID with the hope of better coping with and navigating through it. Best of all, others have joined me in these adventures, sharing their wisdom and experience in reflections of their own.
Looking back on the past year, I want to share a few reflections that continue to affect me (below). And even more, I want to express my deep gratitude for you continuing to read and share these reflections. Your words of support and the simple act of reading these essays helps me keep at this each week—even on weeks where it’s already Friday and I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to write (it happens once in a while!).
So with that, thank you for sharing your time with me these past two years—both through reading and, to those of you who have joined some of our conversations, book discussions, or other online (or local) events, for joining our ongoing community explorations. And please keep joining (or join for the first time). I have learned so much from this fledgling Gaian community, and look forward to another year of learning more with you.
Go with Gaia,
A Little Selection of Favorite Reflections
If all those links to categories and reflections you might have missed are overwhelming, try these five suggestions:
My favorite meditation to practice is definitely “Being a Tree.” If you haven’t tried this, I encourage you to.
Gaia is kind and giving. But as this Parable of the Three Burglars conveys, there are limits to Gaia’s generosity.
The theme of limits regularly reared its head and will continue to. The events of 2020, especially the continuing epidemic of violence on BIPOC communities, sparked this reflection on the links between solidarity and survival.
One theme I keep coming back to (even before COVID) is death. The western understanding of death—including what we do with our bodies when we return to Gaia—is utterly broken. There are better ways to understand death—for the mind, for the spirit, and for the body.
Finally, this Gaian Kōan, especially the final line, sticks with me as I (attempt to) live each day as a Gaian:
A teacher and student are walking in the woods. They reach a field just as a red-tailed hawk swoops down and snatches up a mouse, carries it to a dead tree, and starts immediately to consume it. After silently watching for a moment, the student turns to his teacher and asks,
“Master, what is the purpose of a mouse? Of a hawk? Of all life?”
Without taking her eyes from the hawk, the teacher responds. “To serve Gaia. Or die.”