The ancient words of the Orthodox liturgy, or the Om mani padme hum, or the Upanishads, have an incantatory power — a power of invoking that which they seek to invoke — because they have been repeatedly uttered. But they have been repeatedly uttered because millions have trusted them. To take etymology really seriously is to trust words.
And perhaps that’s what it’s all about. In my less depressive moments, I think that there’s a deep and universal principle at work — which is that if you really, really trust the world (a world that includes words) and make yourself wholly vulnerable in the event of your trust being misplaced, the world always honors and rewards the trust and vulnerability. You can call it faith or grace if you want.
~ Charles Foster, Emergence Magazine
For me, language is a freedom. As soon as you have found the words with which to express something, you are no longer incoherent, you are no longer trapped by your own emotions, by your own experiences; you can describe them, you can tell them, you can bring them out of yourself and give them to somebody else. That is an enormously liberating experience, and it worries me that more and more people are learning not to use language; they’re giving in to the banalities of the television media and shrinking their vocabulary, shrinking their own way of using this fabulous tool that human beings have refined over so many centuries into this extremely sensitive instrument. I don’t want to make it crude, I don’t want to make it into shopping-list language, I don’t want to make it into simply an exchange of information: I want to make it into the subtle, emotional, intellectual, freeing thing that it is and that it can be.
~ Jeanette Winterson
This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
~ Walt Whitman
The moon’s breath
The morning sings.
The egg-shaped moon
is exhaling clouds.
I breathe in and
exhale a song of my own.
as the symphony of birds
respond with hymns
A Monday meander: Eclipsed by the clouds
And our conservationist-environmentalist-moral outrage is often (in its frustration) aimed at the logger or the rancher, when the real power is in the hands of people who make unimaginably larger sums of money, people impeccably groomed, excellently educated at the best universities – male and female alike – eating fine foods and reading classy literature, while orchestrating the investment and legislation that ruin the world.
~ Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild
To argue that the current extinction event could be averted if people just cared more and were willing to make more sacrifices is not wrong, exactly; still, it misses the point. It doesn’t much matter whether people care or don’t care. What matters is that people change the world. This capacity predates modernity.
~ Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time, and perhaps that stewardship is finally our place in the web of life, our work, the solution to the mystery that we are. There are already so many holes in the universe that will never again be filled, and each of them forces us to question why we permitted such loss, such tearing away at the fabric of life, and how we will live with our planet in the future.
~ Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World
We have an invitation to go to church in a new way, by praying before the new leaves budding through dormant trees or the wobbly flowers by the side of the road pushing through the solid earth. . . we too can sing with the air we breathe, the sun that shines upon us, the rain that pours down to water the earth. And we can cry with those who are mourning, with the forgotten, with those who are suffering from disease or illness, with the weak, with the imprisoned. We can mourn in the solidarity of compassion but we must live in the hope of new life.
~ Ilia Delio