In the green awareness community I live in, “sustainable” is a word that is used a great deal. As it should be. It is a call toward something deeper than anything….anything….this culture offers. Do I need to put down one thing in order to lift up my ideal of sustainability? No, in this case, though, its a simple observable contrast. Our culture does not glorify what sustains us. Look at what we eat and buy: hamburgers made from cows herded on the plains of the Amazon. Oh, you didn’t know the Amazon had plains? It does now. Thousands of ancient jungled acres cut down in order to raise enough beef to satisfy the unsatisfiable appetite of all fast food nations. And what do we buy? Trinkets and furniture which last a couple of years before we tire of them, toss them, and buy the next batch. True.
Yes, you are reading judgement in my above lines……I’d like that not to be but its all true. Even if I were able to offer the above without judgement, it would still be true.
And this lifestyle does not sustain us. It weakens us. It will kill us.
The other day, ok a week…a week has gone by…ok maybe two weeks, I dumped a large asparagus fern in the dining room. It’s lovely tendrils grasped me as I was tidying up and the whole thing came tumbling down into a dirt ball, cracked pot mess. I sighed, and walked away. In fact, I totally ignored the whole mess for over a week. Kurt, dear kind Kurt, offered to replant it but didn’t want to just swoop in and deny me of the joy of cleaning the mess. Or deny me an opportunity to actually touch nature.
Today! Today we cleaned up the mess. As we knelt at the apparent suffering of this gorgeous plant, he pointed out the root system, asking if I’d ever seen anything like it. Well, I had never seen an asparagus fern before I moved to this house so chances were really good I had never seen the root system.
The roots of an asparagus plant end in little water filled pods. They look like plump pumpkin seeds in size, shape and color….filled with moisture. Kurt explained that this their method of sustainability and they are not dependent upon the unreliable watering that either human or nature brings it. It will live a long time off of these pods. The pods are not their first line of water consumption, as they do enjoy being watered at intervals particular to them: Once every two weeks in the winter.
I think about what sustains me. What are my pods? Well, Kurt would be a pod of life sustaining moisture. My girlfriends on YS (its a secret name) who create space to explore the wildest nonlimits of spirituality as we seek what is truth and what is Sacred are sustaining. My practices of spiritual deepening which lead me under the surface of my daily life into the realm of Spirit and mystery. I’ve likely got enough fuel on my bones to sustain me a good long time should I only have bread and water to eat. But then that would run out.
Back to my little rant at the start, what in our culture, in our lives is surface and quick, and what is sustainable. Now, the next question is, what do you give your money toward? Your time toward? Do you drink up the regular watering and tuck a bit away down in your hidden pods for a day when the surface freezes, time stands still, and you don’t have access to the things that skim across your daily life? Are we actively preparing our sustenance?
I’ve recently made a small place of prayer in my house. I have large places of prayer in my house already, but I was lacking a place to go to with focused attention. There is now a small altar where I can use the meditation stool that Kurt made for me, light a candle or 3, gaze at the moon out the window, or into the flame and go deep, deep within. This adds the life giving elements that will sustain both my surface as well as my hidden roots. These prayers are often just hummed, or breathed, or spoken in the vernacular of the space, taking me to silence. A minute? 20 minutes? The length of time does not matter as much as the depth that is plumbed.
Oh God of secret sustainment,
I turn to you
in times of the daily beat,
and you sustain me. You make me last. You cause me to
plump up in the waiting,
hold forth in the possibility,
set aside for the future.