A bit on nature

During Erev Rosh Hashanah services, my rabbi said something along the lines of, We have de-sacredize nature.” He was speaking about the ways that we are living in todays world — how we have lost our ability to see the divinity in all things. How losing our way has made it possible for us to destroy the world, just as dehumanizing other people allows us to kill them, not to mention enslave them.

A thought popped into my head when he said this: The first step to de-sacredizing nature is to look out into the world and see a thing you call nature. In other words, the first step is to invent nature.

The thing is, nature is a construct. It is a way of explaining what is out there”, what is separate from us. Nature is trees. Nature is rivers. Nature is a bear or deer. Nature is a mountain. It is something we visit, or that we are interested in”. It is other.

But this can’t be true. We can’t be spearated from nature anymore than we can separated from our own skin; from the air; from the biosphere. Nature isn’t a thing out there. If it’s anything, it is something that we are in. It is simply the world.

I don’t remember where I heard this idea, but it was something like: cities our the human version of the anthill. What we build is just as natural as that. We have capacities that ants don’t have. That is a neutral concept. What we have done with those capacities? Not so neutral. In many cases, negative. But that we create space for us to live among each other, that we build infrastructure to transport oursevles and resources and information? All of this mirrors what the world does.

But still, we hold it separate. This, of course, is at the heart of why we have built systems that seem to work against the way the world worked. If we actually saw ourselves as a part of the world, we would build economic systems that mirror it. We would build governance systems that mirror it. Our food, healthcare, education systems would all be informed by the flow of rivers and the dance of salmon. How could they not? We would know no other way. But we hold it separate.

When you hold something as separate, it will lose its capacity to hold what is sacred about it. It will become de-sacredized.

Earlier today, I received an email from my rabbi. I noticed in his signature line he had the following:

Ein Od Milvado (Deut. 4:35) There is nothing more than That which alone is.

In order to re-connect with Nature, we have to recognize that it is not there. That we are a part of all of creation. That what we walk on is Holy Ground. This, I think, is the secret to what will turn around this atrocity we know as climate change. It is this big of a step we are asked to take.

One year ago today, I wrote this itty-bitty poem. I agree, it would have been a shame.

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