The U.S. Geological Survey read to us this morning from the Acts of Mother Nature 8.9:
My sisters and brothers,
You thought Babylon was bad. Actually, you didn’t think much of it at all, but remind yourselves of it incessantly. And Pol Pot. And Hitler. Is it because I had not much at all to do with it? You remember lamenting, don’t you? Chapter 4: women, you boiled your own children. Whatever suits you. Your babies.
But my fault line. Yes, I know, you think it clever to consider my joints as faults—corrupted earth, if only because it threatens your angels-on-a-pinhead civilization. But I was here first. And I will be here last. Just you remember that.
Truth be told, I call you my sisters and brothers because we were designed to be symbiotic. Have you forgotten how that works? Thrust your miles of ambition into my soil and we’ll call it a day, but that’s not how it should be. Yes, there is a should. And it involves hands gently grafting roots to the earth, tending with water and lusting after trees. Not because trees are paper. Because trees are trees and that is beautiful.
I sound like a needy child, don’t I? And I would be, if I left it at that. But I do well enough to take care of myself, do a little grooming here and there. I know how to shower, how to brush my teeth (the ones that are left). The dentures I take out now and set in the Atlantic Ocean when I sleep. It’s a bit like your brian cells, guillotined with the grating edge of Wild Turkey. My teeth don’t grow back.
But there’s more to me than what I need. I need because I have given you so much. I’m sure you’ve thought about that, right? Think of the oxygen, if nothing else. But you take it for granted, so I doubt it’s even crossed your mind. Otherwise, that sycamore would be worth more to you than wood for a lattice-worked headboard and dining room chairs. It’s not much different with your imposing towers, piercing my sky. If they fall, you’d be devastated, but you’d up and build a second and third. There’s no re-thinking the paradigm. I am a lost pawn, and an unwilling foundation.
When I say I am your Mother, it is not to gloat. It’s to remind you that even with your usurpations and degradations of my flesh, I still love you. How can I not? We’re cut from the same cloth, aren’t we? And yes, the moment came and my joints were sore and that’s what fell upon you in devastation. But did you never think I would sometimes need to stretch—just to stretch? You’re like the family dog, that adorable thing that plops on top of you, paws in your eye, nose in your mouth, and you contorted so far from comfortable it boarders on painful. But you love the dog, don’t you? And so you stay, unmoved, enduring the discomfort.
Until it becomes pain. Then you kick him off your chest, off the couch to find somewhere else to lie. The difference between that dog and you is that you know better. You have the capacity both to care and to know. You have chosen not to care.
Yes, I am sad to know my ruptured self caused you pain and tears and ache. There is no grandstanding in such suffering, no joy in death. I know what it’s like to lose even a tree—and I lose hundreds, thousands everyday. It is not enviable to be cloaked in death as you are now. But will it wake you up? Will it cause you to see?
My arms are stretched out, wide open. My love is mammoth and my giving foolishly generous. Be moved to kindness because of it, and not to greed. As you heal from this great disaster, remember how much I tried to gently love and all you did was rip parts of me away. And know that I did not do this out of spite or punishment, but because the pain was too great.
I am the master who, coiled in discomfort, gently lifts his dog and sets him down elsewhere. But unlike others, now that I am comfortable again and hopeful, I lift the dog back up and set him on my chest.
My sisters and my brothers: Who are we without one another?