Friday, February 15, 2013

Guardians of the Garden: What's My Faith?

I've changed my faith or religion or spiritual practice a lot over the years.  I was born to parents of Jewish ancestry, but they were Unitarians, or Jewnitarians, as their friends joked.   I was born to hybrids.

When I was twelve, we moved to Israel, largely because my Dad felt guilty for not teaching us kids about our Jewish history.  It seemed to me to be too much too late.  It was an alien country and faith to me.  I felt terrible about the holocaust, and I understood Nazis would kill me whether or not I felt Jewish, but I still didn't feel like kissing the ground when we landed in Israel.

At thirteen, I went to Quaker boarding school in the mountains of North Carolina.  As students, we didn't go to Meeting much, but we spent our days and nights outside in nature.  You might say it was in the mountains I found God.  I came home to myself and fell in love with the streams,  rhododendron, sandy mica paths, and black mountaintops.  I loved sliding down rocks in the South Toe river, sliding down mountain sides in the snow, skating and swimming in natural ponds, resting in wild grasses and staring at the stars on windy nights.  My house parents had to drag me inside to go to bed at night.

As a young adult, I flirted with Christianity, walking in and out of churches and cathedrals in New York City.

I later followed my partner to an ashram in New York City and meditated for several years.

When I became a mom, I felt the need to find a religious faith with "normal" holidays to celebrate, and since my partner and I both came from Jewish ancestry, we joined a synagogue, went faithfully to Shabbat services, and practiced the Jewish faith for fourteen years--Challah, matzo ball soup, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and all.  We still do.  It's good for the family.

As my daughter grew older, I searched again and I began meditating with a local Buddhist group.

Each of these religions offers me different ways to understand and deal with the challenges of the human condition--but, above all, what I have come to embrace most deeply in my search for faith, is not an official religion, with a title or building or set of written laws, practices, and rules, but my experience of and with nature.  

It turns out that my greatest devotion, commitment, love and joy, outside of parenting, or perhaps integrally linked to it, is connecting with and protecting the earth--soil, rock, water, mountains, oceans, rivers, trees, animals, birds, reptiles, and all living creatures.  

My belief in nature makes me understand that if I love this blessed nature so much, then I have a sacred duty to protect her.

Yes, I want to guard and protect our beautiful earth.  I want to be sure that clean water, air and soil are here to stay for all future beings, human and nonhuman.

That is my rock solid faith.

What's yours?

This video, made by my friends Doug and Patti Wood, founders of Grassroots Environmental Education, inspired these thoughts.  "We were called to be guardians of the earth."


Ban Fracking Now and the Big Climate Change Rally on 2/17/13

It's been a really busy week.  We showed the film, Dear Governor Cuomo, at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY on Tuesday 2/12.  The talks given after the film, by the filmmaker Jon Bowermaster and Patti Wood, from Grassroots Environmental Education, were highly informative.  Coincidentally, on Tuesday, there was a small win on the New York anti-fracking side, as the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) determined they need more time to examine the SGEIS Fracking health impact study before moving forward with drilling in the state of NY.  However, things are far from certain--it's just a short delay.  New York still doesn't have a ban on fracking.

It's important that we keep the pressure on.

As Michael Green says, "It's not too late for New Yorkers to take action and tell the governor not to repeat the past mistakes...with fracking. Write Governor Cuomo, tell your state Senator and Assembly member, and write a letter to the editor. Add your voice to the millions of New Yorkers who want to put our health and environment before the fracking industry's rush to profits."  Call Governor Cuomo and tell him to Ban Fracking Now:  518-474-8390.

Meanwhile, on the Climate Change action front, we've filled two busloads of people from Stony Brook University and other locations on Long Island, and we're headed to DC on Sunday, 2/17, to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline and Climate Change at large.  The protest is hosted by Sierra Club and,  along with many other environmental organizations, including Coalition Against Nukes and No Nukes NIRS.

We want President Obama and our politicians to hear our voices loud and clear.  It's time to change our energy policies to truly renewable ones--wind, solar, geothermal,  and it's time to make massive and systematic changes in our transportation and production systems in the U.S. and the world.  We cannot continue to exploit our environment as we have been and hope to survive.  Earth first--not profit for corporations.  Climate Change is already upon us, so we really have no time to lose.

Act, speak up, change how you live.  There is no time to lose.  

My heart breaks for the future ones, but I'm not sitting on my hands or closing my eyes.  Please join me and the 20,000 or more who feel the same.

We'll be marching for the earth and the future generations.

If you want to join a Climate Change rally this Sunday, you don't have to go to DC.  Please see this exhaustive list of protests taking place all over the U.S. in Michael Lerner's piece in Tikkun. You can rally for the planet on 2/17, from just about anywhere.