One of my deepest griefs during this pandemic has been the inability to sing with others in a room—working out difficult patterns, rhythms, textures, dynamics and notes with other voices. My choir master, Matt Greer, and the Board of Quintessence quickly made the difficult decision to abort our March concert 2020 and suspend our choral singing for now—based upon ACDA recognition of the science of singing as a super spreader event. Singing alone is nothing like the life-giving sustenance of singing in community.
I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say there is also a silver lining. Time. Much more time for writing, day dreaming, resting. As the rug has been yanked out from under all of us in our day jobs and part or full time passions, we have found new ways of being resilient and adaptive. This is one of the good qualities of human nature. Hobbies are always there for the picking.
One thing I am taking up is gardening. Alongside my beehives, it seems to just make sense. Growing my own food seems to be my own little resistance to the damaging, destructive Big Ag practices of spraying poison on everything that moves in our food system. This is not only causing a bug apocalypse, but it harms our essential migrant workers. Then off it goes to market and into our mouths. We must boycott this senselessly grown food in our stores.
I want to know where my food is grown and how. Thank you to Ian, my trusty Solar Punk farmster, I will still get some veggies from local organic growers and the CSA (community supported agriculture) that honors our farmers, pollinators and healthy soil, air and water.
Because of my new garden project in collaboration with Kenneth and friend Catherine Joy, I have been dancing on air! I’ve already begun my marigold seeds. I visited Bern-Co Broadway branch library recently to get my stash of FREE, yes, FREE organic/non-GMO, heirloom seeds! What a fabulous program this is! Kohlrabi, radish, broccoli, onion, cabbage, lettuce, snap peas, red Russian kale, basil, spinach, arugula, morning glory, calendula…
These days I have been thinking alot about modern life and our economy’s vacuous stranglehold on everything. Some people are willing accomplices, allowing insanity to run amok, electing people who relish this destruction for the god of money, their profit and jobs, jobs, jobs. No one ever tells us that this scarcity driven and destructive narrative is totally wrong. Occupy Wall Street author, economist and activist for “We are the 99%”, the late David Graeber knew we had become enslaved to the plantation— killing the living world and us. As Graeber penned, “The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.”
How do we become a more compassionate, altruistic humane people? If we are to surmount our rapidly increasing violence against the earth and exploding cultural/racial divides, to get off this death train, which our double speaking politicians in power say is the way forward, we must stop honoring all the things of this idolatrous system and dream for our children’s future.
Beginning with the belief that we are one with each other and this magical, wondrous world we inhabit. Our fortunes are inextricably woven. Recently I joined an international zoom event with Nigerian teacher, philosopher, writer Bayo Akomolafe. He was speaking with the Green Sabbath Project, founded by Professor Jonathan Schorsch, who poses the question, ‘Is there nothing you can do about the environment? Nothing may be one of the best things you can do!’
Bayo piqued our imaginations with his poetic use of words and images:
Because modernity centralizes rationality/human experience, and instrumentalizes the nonhuman world as resource for human ends (that is, refusing to see the nonhuman world as powerful on its own terms), power and enchantment are always in short supply relative to deepening demand. One has to make a great effort to leave the homogenizing lull of suburbia for some distant, exotic location in order to feel alive, for instance. As the deadening rationality of modern civilization spreads, and as its circumference expands, the intimate magic of a relational world becomes even more contraband and expensive, reduced to a ‘high’ on a street corner….Isn’t the material world (the one we in our hubris seek to save) infused with agency, power, longing and electrifying possibility – which the Yoruba people of West Africa that are observant of the Ifá nature religion call ‘asé’, a matrixial web of change that enlists human and nonhuman bodies in the co-production of reality? Cannot the world speak for itself?
What if, we just stopped our mindless, endless, distracted human nonsense and went out into nature and listened? What if we sat with an ant? A plant? a stone? A river? What if we began to hear that the world IS speaking for herself. The earth has agency and will prevail, with or without humans. Joining her would be a much more joyful and pleasant ride. Intimacy with bees and tomatoes, coyotes and squash worms, cedar trees and vast skies, soil teeming with bacteria…this world awaits our reflection and relationship. Intimacy after all, is a close familiarity, affection, friendship, closeness. We need one another, earth beings all. Living, respirating beings all. As Eric Whitacre’s stunning 17,500 voice virtual choir (see below)reminds us, We Are One. It is time to join our voices across time, space, continents, cultures, race.
This Friday, I will be speaking at the Green Sabbath Gathering. I want to hold up this vision of the urgency to connect to the web of all life now. More than ever. Sabbath Wisdom from the Soul of the World. Join us!