Over the last month, I’ve made weekly trips beyond to the suburbs along a bumpy road far from the busy city. While it’s a drive out of my way, it’s a trip I look forward to. I always find something I didn’t expect – something good to bring home. My destination: the farm! It’s there I find produce for the week: corn on the cob, string beans, peas, potatoes, turnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, tree-ripened peaches and cantaloupes from the vine. It’s an amazing bounty! While I buy fresh produce throughout the year at the local market, it’s striking how full of flavor freshly picked fruits and vegetables can be when they come directly from the farm.
Part of the sustainable living and slow food movements is a focus on buying local, non-processed products. Buying locally means that produce is picked ripe which means that it’s bursting with flavor. But it also means that the produce isn’t shipped across the country (or from another country) adding carbon fuel pollutants to the environment. (For those who may question my drive to the country, I will add that I drive a hybrid car — so I am attempting to limit my own carbon footprint.) As important as the commitment to sustainable living is, there is also an important spiritual dimension to consider in this season of harvest. Simply put, Mother Earth responds generously to our presence by assuring that we are nourished by her bounty.
Consider this for a moment: the earth is opened to receive the seed in planting time. With very little on our part, the mystery of growth occurs. The seed shouts up a bud; the bud blossoms; the blossom grows into a red, ripe tomato or fresh, juicy peach. Freely, the plant shares its bounty with us to nourish us. It seems to almost say, “Take. Eat. Be refreshed with my sweetness.” We, in turn, have the honor to take and savor the richness of Mother Earth but often do so without recognition of or gratitude for the wonderful way in which we are sustained.
To consider a sustainable spirituality, we need to begin from the recognition that Mother Earth already sustains us. Everything we need in life is provided for us on this vast, rich planet. In fact, it was here before we could ask for it. In return for sustaining us, we have a responsibility: to use the gifts of our planet wisely – in a way that sustains the bounty for others who will come after us.
Often, when people think of sustainability, the focus is on the changes that need to be made in lifestyle. From this perspective, sustainability is understood as a sacrifice to comfort and convenience. This perspective is a narrow view and misses the far greater reality: that we have already been sustained by our planet. Mother Earth has given us a great gift. Sustainable living becomes an opportunity to respond in-kind by supporting the life of the planet which has supports our lives.
Sustainable living is based on nothing more than recognizing that Earth’s bountiful resources have sustained us. In gratitude, our choices in how to live need to sustain the Earth for those who come after us.
© 2010, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.