An Ecologic Ethic

Posted by Marcia Penner Freedman

The idea of creating a global ecologic ethic, as described by Aldo Leopold in his essay The Land Ethic, has been running around in my brain.  I think humanity is ready to pull it off.

  • We are finally acknowledging that the Earth is mortally ill and that we bear some responsibility for its present condition.
  • We are finally ready to take care of the Earth, and hopefully reverse the effects of our bad ecologic habits.
  • The promising ecospirituality movement is helping religious and non-religious people around the globe recognize the need for us to change our concept of and our relationship to nature.
  • Earth Day, since its inception in America on April 22, 1970, has grown to almost 200 countries participating worldwide each year. That’s hundreds of millions of people, maybe a billion. That is a lot of people collectively paying attention to the environment.

The ecologic ethic I imagine would begin with a spiritual mantra: nature is sacred and worthy of care.

Something that is sacred has the power of arousing feelings of reverence and awe, drawing to it devotion and respect. These emotions can affect how we treat each other and, consequently, how we treat the earth.  These emotions call on us to act with compassion, integrity and charity. They call on us to exercise modesty.

I envision a kind of ecologic Sabbath, a weekly, apolitical, non-activist Earth Day of simplicity. No productivity or consumption of natural resources, a time when we buy and sell nothing. A day we share our rest with nature.

Our Earth Day Sabbath would be spent in celebration of Nature’s inherent order, spending time with family and friends, reading and reflecting about the universe and studying ecologic themes. It would be a day obliging us to renounce the use of tools and gadgets and electronics of every kind for twenty-four hours.

The idea of an Earth Day Sabbath came to me after speaking with an Orthodox Jewish woman about nature and spirituality and how she sees their connection to the traditional Jewish Sabbath – which runs from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

These are her words…

It’s a time to give nature a rest. I have a friend who won’t walk on the grass on Shabbat.  See that fly buzzing around and annoying me?  I would not bother him. He would not be swatted on Shabbat.  It’s also about conservation. You do all your cooking ahead of time. You mete out the food. You can’t be shopping for more. You can’t consume more than you’ve prepared.  It’s a lesson in self-restraint.  Makes you feel stronger as an individual. You feel disciplined, connected. It makes me feel connected to God, but not only God. When I am lighting my Sabbath candles, I know that women all over the world are lighting their candles at sundown.  Powerful – it unifies you.  It’s a spiritual connection.

Touching Nature is taking a holiday break until January 4, 2018.  Happy New Year to you all.

Ecospirituality: Beyond the Oneness

Posted by Marcia Penner Freedman

This is not a post about climate change. But somehow I’m unable to talk about spirituality and nature, at the same time ignoring the extreme weather events occurring around the world. To me it seems clear that, in Bob Dylan’s words, something’s happening here, and Mother Nature doesn’t seem too pleased about it.

A few stats:

  • The 2016 autumn freeze-up of Arctic sea ice was exceptionally slow, but even stranger things were going on. In mid-November, the sea ice actually started melting
  • Last year saw examples of extreme transitions from drought to above-average rainfall. The most dramatic transition occurred in Australia, which resulted in extensive flooding of inland rivers. (Those of us who live in the foothills of the Sierra can relate to this.)
  • Two separate outbreaks of major hailstorms occurred in Texas, one around Dallas–Fort Worth in March and a second centered on San Antonio in April, resulting in hailstones with a diameter of 4 1/2 inches.
  • Outside the United States, a notable hailstorm occurred in the Brabant province of the Netherlands on 23 June, with hailstones up to 4 inches.
  • The world is getting warmer, but parts of it are actually getting colder. In 2016, northern and central Argentina, Paraguay and lowland Bolivia experienced significantly cooler temperatures on land. South-western Australia experienced its coldest winter since 1990.
  • British Columbia is suffering through its second-worst fire season.
  • By December 8, 2017 Corpus Christi, Texas had received more snow than Denver.
  • In July, Death Valley experienced the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
  • During a dinnertime conversation, friends who live in foothills of the Sierra express alarm at the unseasonable appearance of flowers in their gardens, the need to continue watering their plants because of the lack of rain, and the early budding of otherwise winter dormant trees.

OK, I said this is not a post about climate change.  So, now to the point….  Ecospirituality.   This is a global, sacred, nondenominational movement aimed at strengthening our spiritual connection to nature, at changing our very view of what nature is.

Ecospirituality affirms the holiness and inherent value of all of nature. By pairing spirituality and religion with science, ecospirituality seeks to transform the human relationship to the land into a healing force for our degraded Earth.

How to understand ecospirituality:

Think of spirituality and religion partnering with biology and ecology, of holiness and reverence and benevolence hooked up with stewardship and responsibility for the land. Imagine justice and equality for all living beings attached to environmental activism, and religious and spiritual transcendence grounded in ethical constraint.

Ecospirituality does not eschew established religion. To the contrary, the broad spectrum of supporters associated with the movement includes world religions, and brings a variety of practice and ritual to the table in a shared commitment to reviving our ailing environment.

Deep Ecology. Green Religion. Dark Green Religion. Ecofeminism. Nature Religion. GreenFaith. These are just a few of the groups that have emerged under the umbrella of ecospirituality .

In 1949, in response to his observation of the rising commercialism and materialism associated with the outdoors, environmentalist Aldo Leopold proposed the establishment of a land ethic.

Leopold conceived of the land ethic as the third step in the evolution of the human ethical experience, as introduced in the Bible: the first was the Ten Commandments, which placed constraints on individuals in our struggle to relate morally to one another; the second, The Golden Rule, which set down a framework for the struggle for the moral relationship between the individual and society.

This third ethic Leopold envisioned as an ecologic one based on the premise that all members of nature, including humans, are interconnected and interdependent. As such, it would lay out the parameters for the moral relationship of man to all the land, including the soils, waters, plants, and animals.

According to Leopold, an ecologic ethic, by encompassing all of life, would impose a limitation on freedom of action in the struggle for existence.

Perhaps the ecospiritual movement, in taking up this struggle, will be able to contribute to the formulation of an ecologic ethic, one that reframes the relationship of humans to nature from owner and overseer to that of partner and comrade.

Perhaps, through an ecologic ethic, degrading environmental trends like climate change can actually be reversed.













A Poem, Two Photographs, An Article

Posted by Marcia Penner Freedman

In today’s post I am sharing several reader responses to the article Engaging with Spirit: Awesome Awe.

Marcia Goldberg of Montreal, Quebec writes about three personal miracle days.

Always Waking Up
Awe lies dormant till that realm
in nature flies open, self so small
it’s an icon, a footnote, the screen
of conscious unconsciousness
broadly supplying transcendent couplings,
the parietal lobe blitzed, space awareness
toggled to radical amazement:
the mother-self overriding/undergirding
late morning glacial pond on a pier;
top of the skull peeled, stripped, upthrust
in a rush of clouds at Arlington Cemetery
while standing under a maple by a grave marked Blue;
that day at North Palm Beach afloat
in quiet surf, you an outcast
from a trip-of-a-lifetime experience
comported in a split second to an exact impossible illumination
of Magen David overhead, twenty minutes insistent that this is real.

Susie at writes about perfect reflections and shadowy self blending…

I sometimes walk to a nearby pond in the morning when the sunlight is just perfect for reflections and reflecting.  The reflections give me a sense of being a part of an impressionist painting. There is something about a perfect reflection, where it appears that two worlds have blended into one, that fills me with a sense of being part of another dimension; one that is only composed of tranquil beauty.

If the sunlight is just right, and I am standing in just the right spot, I can sometimes photograph my shadowy self blending into the scene.  When I get home and download the photo, I love the experience of seeing that I have become a small unobtrusive part of what I had witnessed.

Amateur HAM radio guru Joe Frank (W6JLF) recommends……

New Study Links Living Near Forests to Healthier Brains


Tom Jacobs posted Nov 30, 2017

Evidence keeps mounting that, in stressful times, there is much to gain by surrounding yourself with plants and trees. As images of the still-burning Northern California wildfires confirm, living on the edge of a forest comes with considerable dangers. But new research from Germany suggests proximity to a wooded landscape may also have a huge benefit.

People who dwell on the border between city and forest may be better able to cope with stress.

In a study of older urban dwellers, it found living in close proximity to forest land is linked with strong, healthy functioning of a key part of the brain. This indicates that, compared with those who live in a mostly man-made environment, people who dwell on the border between city and forest may be better able to cope with stress.

The findings suggest “forests in and around cities are a valuable resource that should be promoted,” writes a research team led by Simone Kuehn of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. Its research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.