Melting Permafrost, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, and a New Year

Posted December 21st, 2011 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on Melting Permafrost, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, and a New Year

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Mystic Mountain - dust and gas rising within Carina Nebula. Photo: Hubble Space Telescope

Impermanence is written into creation, an ongoing process of unfolding since the igniting of the Big Bang. We are all in that process. It is dynamic, vibrant, fecund. We experience impermanence in a profound way here in the northern hemisphere at this time of year. Darkness fills more of our day. For many of us it is a time to turn inward, to slow down. We just don’t have the same energy, fatigue comes more easily.

The earth turns at a different angle. Today the angle begins to shift again and the daylight will begin to linger longer.

We are changed by all this – constantly. Nothing stops the act of creation. Jesus is not born again. But we place this birth that meant so much to a Semitic people under the weight of empire, that held promise that life could be transformed and healed, or that liberation could overcome oppression once and for all — that even death could suffer an ultimate defeat — we place this birth into the immediate aftermath of that shifting angle, that hint of daylight filling more of our day.

We can’t hold that in place either. Our understanding of that event also shifts with the unfolding. Trying to hold in place an understanding of it has caused no end of turmoil, oppression, doubt, and suffering for 2,000 years. The beauty of any ‘truth’ is that it is a gateway to peer into reality and find its essence. But you cannot hold it in place. Nothing exists in stasis within the dynamism of creation, not even ‘truth.’

Humans are changing the planet. In our effort to hold something in place — the construct of an economic model of capitalism, a way of wealth generation for the ‘masters of the universe,’ beliefs about ourselves and our Western way of life, religious belief systems and institutions, dogma and ideology — we are doing a great deal of harm. And now we have set in motion changes that cannot be reversed. Well, no change can be reversed. There is no ‘back’ to which to return. But we do have to deal with the consequences of change, most especially those we perpetrate in our fear and ignorance, and especially our attempts to ‘hold in place,’ as if you could get the force of the Big Bang to simply stop for the sake of this one species living on this beautiful plant orbiting an ordinary star in a solar system that swirls within one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe.

It will not hold in place for us.

We don’t want to believe that our actions and daily decisions affect everything around us and that we have to be responsible for those effects – but that is the truth of the web and dynamism of creation in which we exist. There is simply no escaping that truth.

The Storflaket permafrost plateau bog near Abisko in northern Sweden shows cracks at its borders due to thawing of the permafrost. Source: found in Wikipedia

And so the melting permafrost. Perma… as in, permanent. Permanent freezing of organic matter under the surface of the soil.

Nothing is permanent. And the accelerating nature of the non-permanent aspect of the permafrost, aided and abetted by our human industrial age, ought to have us all breathing deeply to keep anxiety at bay. It is a sign that everything about our planet is undergoing rapid change right now. That has always been the case. But we are bringing about a swift change to a balance that has held for tens of thousands of years, the balance in which we have succeeded as a species to divide and multiply and fill the planet with the questionable success of human proliferation. This change is happening too quickly for us to easily or effortlessly adapt to it.

To understand our predicament fully, we have to understand how profoundly we have disturbed the balance.

And so these links:

High Risk of Permafrost Thaw
Thawing permafrost vents gases to worsen warming
Permafrost thaw – just how scary is it?
As permafrost thaws, scientists study risks

Drastic change is already locked into the dynamic mix within our atmosphere. Over the next couple of centuries, humans and other species are going to be struggling to adjust to a vastly warmer world. Some will survive, some won’t, new species will emerge over time, the earth will continue to respond to all the forces at work within it – as right now it is responding to this force that is human ‘civilization.’ We are nature and do not in any way exist outside it.

We ought to be taking better care of it. It’s our habitat, our home, our swaddling clothes, our manger. We ought not to be abusing the Mother’s arms that hold us and care for us and provide for us what we need for life. That we have lost the sense of this, our ability to feel and know it, is one of the great costs, losses, and sorrows of our industrial/technological/consumer way of life.

That we feel more secure in a Walmart or rush hour traffic or checking email on our smart phones than we do in the balance of our biological community is evidence of our great alienation from who we really are, and each day the distance (psycho-spiritual distance, because it does not exist in reality) grows wider and more fraught with danger and catastrophe.

So I just rest in this right now because I don’t know what else to do. But I rest also in the awareness of so many within the human community who are coming to know this with every cell of their bodies and who are turning back to their true home and habitat with a spirit of respect, gratitude, reverence, and a great desire to be part of another kind of unfolding. Within the destruction, within the painful transitions to come, are seeds of the new life that will emerge through the suffering. T’was ever thus, I guess.

My meditation table. It changes constantly, too.

If we return to wonder, to the essence of reality, we could make this journey a whole lot easier. And for this I pray in this season of hope and light and renewal.

Blessings and true riches to each of you, mostly the appreciation deep in our hearts for that of which we are a part in this one beautiful ongoing act of new creation.

Margaret Swedish


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