Issue 4 Editorial

EDITORIAL Issue 4, Autumn ‘06

I have just put more than a hundred overhead transparency sheets into the rubbish bin. They belong to another era of my life when the overhead projector was my constant companion and these sheets were my reliable security blankets for communicating concepts to others. They are useless to me now, but I have been stockpiling them because of my ever deepening anxiety about their impact once I consign them to the landfill. How can Earth re-cycle these things? They are safe enough sitting in my cupboard, but when I throw them ‘out’, what am I contributing to the toxicity of soil, water and air in generations hence ?

The current devastation on our planet is appalling. It has the potential to render immobile those with insight. But fading in and out of my awareness as I fret over this issue, is the mantra that we cannot solve such problems with the same mindset as that which created them. I also hear the wisdom that to bury oneself in a morass of guilt is to impede the inrush of a fertile imagination, an imagination capable of creating an alternative future.

So to what should I give my deeper attention? Is my spirit to be traumatized by all this negativity or can I allow Earth herself to allure me into a fresh understanding of her ways so that I might be energized by the same seamless ground that, at the deepest level, brings into being all that is, was and ever will be? Joanna Macy uses the term the ‘Great Turning’. Thomas Berry speaks of the ‘Great Work’. Whatever term we choose, we know it is great, we know we are in the embrace of a powerful energy for transformation.

To preserve this sacred world of our origins from destruction, our great need is for a renewal of nothing less than our sense of identity. We need to understand our human being in relation to the integral functioning of planet Earth, in relation to the stupendous story of the unfolding cosmos that brought to birth planet Earth. We need to move from a philosophy of alienation from the natural world to a spirituality of intimacy, from an culture of denial to a celebration of wonder, from an economy of extraction to an ecology of interdependence.

The language of this new identity is what Wendy Chew describes as the ‘older language of Earth, a language of soul and soil, of stone and flesh’. But the language must develop a new dialect for our own times. Earth language has very slow rhythms albeit with majestic chords of creative exuberance. Earth language of course is derived from the symphony of the Uni-verse. This is the language of creativity. This is the language of communion.

The universal emergence is a single energy event, complex and multiform, but one. The cosmic language of creativity is embodied in the human species as in all other beings, but individual and cultural perceptions are stifling its voice. Can we recover this language of creativity and re-vitalize our senses to learn its cadences. This is the task of contemporary humans: to re-connect, to re-orientate, to re-view our identity as members of that single energy event. The new dialect for this journey of re-location is characterized by a spirit of humility, an acquisition of the humus so essential to fertility!

This edition of the journal celebrates the songs and words of those who are allured by this spirit of humility. The power of a shy, gentle wallaby’s gaze can re-orient one’s sense of purpose as Wendy Chew testifies. Pat Dare’s hands have worked with the land’s rhythms to celebrate its fertility. Veronica Brady sings in praise of the visionary Judith Wright; Gill and Alan Baker take on the challenges that humility and integrity put in the path of a corporate technocratic economy and begin a conversation that must be continued. The story of Lake Cowal also continues, with its invitation not only to mourn the abuse of the land and her peoples, but to act in their interests.

Education is a fundamental issue in our re-inventive process. Caroline Smith scans the horizon of educators for insights into an approach that honours human belonging within, not without, the web of life and we delight in the stories from schools that are doing it.

There are more articles, poems and reflections here singing the melody of re-orientation and articulating the new dialect of belonging. To engage with these insights is to engage in the ‘great work’.  I hope you enjoy the company of our writers and artists and, through them, feel more intimately drawn back into the communion of being.