Spirit and Nature Minute
Drafted by Gunpowder Friends Meeting
As Quakers we are called to a right relationship with Nature and all its sacredness. A right relationship requires that we learn and respect the ways in which Nature works and rediscover our sacred connections. A right relationship requires that humans share the Earth’s productivity and resources with one another and with other species. A right relationship requires us to be good stewards of our planet.
It would go a great way to caution and direct people in their Use of the World, that they were better studied and known in the Creation of it. For how could Mankind find the confidence to abuse it, while they should see the Great Creator stare them in the Face, in all and every Part thereof?
William Penn, from Some Fruits of Solitude, 1692
The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationships, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
Black Elk. Oglala Sioux
…be patterns, be examples, in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.
Interconnectedness and Sacredness of Nature
- There is that of God in all of Nature.
- Nature reveals ways of understanding the divine, the sacred. Nature inspires us.
- There is an interconnectedness and sacred unity of all Nature. Humans play a pivotal role as part of that whole.
- Humans have an innate affinity with Nature and are entirely dependent on Nature for our survival.
Our calling to Right Relationship
We are called to:
- develop a spiritual awareness of our oneness with Nature;
- pay attention to Nature; re-discover its beauty and complexity;
- develop gratitude and reverence for the organisms and systems that sustain us;
- learn the rules that govern natural systems and how to follow them within a sustainable economic system;
- explore the connection between our overconsumption and the suffering of humans and other organisms; and
- work together to protect and conserve Nature.
The Problem: Failure in our relationship with the rest of Nature
- Humans have a unique place in Nature due to our ability to effect change, yet we are part of Nature.
- We are connected to other humans and the rest of Nature through time and space because we make decisions that affect the future and affect distant places.
- Our behavior is not consistent with our interconnectedness with Nature. We are disrupting, and in places destroying, the natural systems on Earth that support and sustain us.
- We act for short term economic benefit and convenience rather than long-term sustainability. An economy based on increasing expansion of the use of natural resources is not sustainable.
- At our current level of consumption of natural resources, our population exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet.
- Our consumption produces an enormous quantity of waste and toxic byproducts.
- We are interfering with other species’ niches. Other species have the right to exist and evolve within Nature. We are not the sole inheritors of it.
- Peace and justice depend upon restoring and maintaining the Earth's ecological integrity, and accepting constraints on our behaviors that affect others.
What to Do
- Explore the spiritual lessons that we can learn from Nature.
- Celebrate Nature as a community. Practice gratitude.
- Learn the stories of our place at the Gunpowder Meetinghouse grounds and of our individual homes and communities. Become native to our place.
- Protect the natural systems that sustain us. Make decisions thinking ahead future generations.
- Encourage one another to live simply and consume mindfully.
- Be willing to incur the costs and inconvenience of environmental responsibility.
- Further policies and practices that foster a peaceful, just, and environmentally sustainable future.
- Re-imagine what our daily lives could be like in a sustainable world.
- Operate the Gunpowder Meetinghouse and grounds in ways that are consistent with our calling.
Tragedy of the Commons – Garret Harden
Next Industrial Revolution DVD – William Mc Donough
How Green is Your Meetinghouse? A Five Star Rating System – Quaker Earthcare Witness and Canadian Yearly Meeting’s Quaker Ecology Action Network
Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy – Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Grover
Quaker Earthcare Witness – Witness and Vision statement
Befriending Creation: Newsletter of Quaker Earthcare Witness
Fight Global Warming Now: The Handbook for Taking Action in your Community – Bill McKibben