Issue 9 Editorial

After one of my workshops at a recent conference, a woman encompassed me in a big hug
saying, ‘Thank you so much for that. I have no idea what you were talking about but I want to know more!’

The theme we had been exploring was World as Sacrament and we had travelled through the 3,7000
million year story of the unfolding of enspirited matter as it continues to flare forth from the heart of Mystery. Along this journey, it was revealed that the universe delights in difference and seeks always for more and more diverse and complex self expression, that each emergent entity has its own inner self organizing dynamics – its own ‘soul’ if you will – and that all that is, was and ever will be are held in one vast communion.

I had a deep empathy with the woman’s reaction because it resonated with my own experience over a decade ago, when I began to hear something of the intriguing but baffling new cosmology. Louis Pasteur reflected that ‘chance favours the prepared mind’ and as the gift of restlessness rises in one’s heart in response to the shallowness of the materialist and consumerist aspects of contemporary life, we sense intuitively that our society is living out of a tired story. The old Western story about where we came from, who we are and where we belong is unable to provide the psychic energy and passion to engage in the constant re-creation that is
the seed-bed of fruitful life – we know ourselves to be in need of a new story, a new identity, a new purpose.

The conference was aimed at educational leadership teams and there is no busier place at this time in history than a school. Nonetheless the term ‘presence’ was frequently used as a vital component of leadership. Presence is the essence of relationship, and I think my friend in the workshop was embarking on a path whereby Earth, her community of life and her deep story would be revealed to her in a relationship of mutual presence.

The exercise of presence requires the ability to look and to listen, it requires attentiveness. As Earth’s axis brings our continent more fully into the sun’s path in these later months of the year, we are surrounded by the wonder of the annual cycle of new life. In the more temperate regions and despite the desperate drought in so many areas, golden wattle has renewed our hope. The fragility of tiny catkins emerging on dormant twigs, the delicate  greening of bare branches, the eucalypts bursting into dainty and myriad circlets of stamens, the
blossoms of fruit trees with their promise of abundance and crops rising from the soil in anticipation
of spring rains, all send the birds and bees, and, in some places, the locusts into frenzies of delight.

But only the listening heart and the attentive eye and ear will notice these things. Only the prepared mind will be allured into the deeper story of Earth as the source of life and seek to enquire further into the identity of the human. Such attentiveness reveals that we are the place where Earth enters into deep joy, wonder and celebration at the inner dynamism that sustains all life on this planet.

In the feature article of this edition Roslynn Haynes returns to us (see Spring 2006). Ros shares the fruits of her attentiveness to wilderness through the eyes of artists and poets and tracks the journey of Australian  consciousness from the fear of the early settlers to a more intimate relationship with land. Towards the end of the article she raises the conundrum that confronts the development of ecotourism as it continues to intrude into pristine areas of wilderness.

Other articles reveal the abysmal gap in our society’s general ability to enter into the reality of Earth’s depletion in these times. Ethical issues abound as Maude Barlow challenges Australians about water use, Tim Flannery urges immediate attention to climate change, and speakers at the Barry Jones conference re-enforce these views.

Fortunately the seriousness of such matters is balanced by a wonderful set of Carbon Heroes who exemplify a commitment to lightening the impact of their lifestyles on the stressed planet. In the next of the series, Earthlink explores another aspect of the spirituality that takes shape when we listen deeply to the rhythms of creativity.

It is always a joy to publish poems and shorter reflection pieces that are the fruit of a person’s deepening sense of identity with the community of life and this edition will not fail you in this regard.

Like my friend at the conference, may you too find yourself excited by the emerging new consciousness even if it makes little sense at the moment.