Volume 2, Issue 1 Editorial


Have you ever experienced, however momentarily, a feeling of total inclusion – yourself and all else in an embrace of living energy? I’ve known this in a small courtyard garden on a summer’s morning where bees were busy collecting nectar from the generously open hearts of flower. I’ve known it in the moving light of the evening where one is aware of the enormity of being in the seemingly gentle movement of our planet away from our mother star to a place of rest beneath the star lit sky. In many ways big and small we have each known ourselves to belong beyond our own physical boundaries.

The theme of this edition of EarthSong is the ecological self. Whilst this is not a familiar term in our everyday language it is a concept that relates to our perceptions about belonging in the whole scheme of things. Whilst experiencing ourselves as discrete we also know that our uniqueness is given and sustained in the soul of the whole. Our true identity is to be found in the story of everything across the expanse of time and space

In reflecting on this sentience Berry and Swimme describe the poetic, or for some, the mystical quality of human experience expressed in the works of writers such as Walt Whitman:

(He) did not invent his sentience, nor was he wholly responsible for the form of feelings he experienced. Rather his sentience is an intricate creation of the Milky Way, and his feelings are an evocation of being, an evocation involving thunderstorms, sunlight, grass, history and death. Walt Whitman is a space the Milky Way fashioned to feel its own grandeur. [i]

Many of us delight in the poems of Judith Wright, Mary Oliver, David Whyte and others who express this same awareness and capture the rhapsody of our own experiences whilst we remain relatively speechless. There is a seamlessness about being, albeit as a communion of unique identities. The journey into this consciousness is rarely one of chance. It requires an attentiveness, placing oneself in the way of moving more deeply into awareness, of perceiving the presence of the other in mutuality. To undertake this journey is to create an openness, a space into which we might see more deeply.

Events of the last few months at geological, seismological, meteorological and even political levels have revealed many stories of both love and anguish. These stories reverberate through all being and have often laid bare the folly of both human arrogance and ignorance in terms of our ecological selves. The following pages are filled with invitations to reflect on the locus of our true selves. Freya Matthews challenges the notion of living sustainably without an intentional refiguring of our being that translates (transvalues) the desires of the other than human world into our own desires. One might make a connection here between the archetypal image of giving one’s life that others may live.

Caroline Smith recalls how childhood experiences are so influential in the emergence of the ecological self. She describes the pain that proceeds from a deep sense of loss resulting from the destruction of the landscape of these experiences ‘as if part of me had been  disconnected, diminished, killed’.

Both Christina Joy and Alicia Flynn describe how easy it is to engage children in experiences of belonging and delighting in a flourishing life community and Shane Lavery offers a hopeful note on the education of teachers to lead youngsters in this direction.

There is much more in these pages to nourish your spirit and hopefully this first full colour edition will simply engage you with the images if in no other way.

This edition marks an exciting new development for EarthSong. Volume 1 concluded with the 13th edition and so broke the spell of black and white contents. The Editorial Committee for previous editions: Gill Baker, Caroline Smith and Tom Kingston from the beginning, joined more recently by Pat Long and Cath Keady, worked on a totally voluntary basis and we are justly proud of their achievements. David Lovell, was associate editor and I have learned so much from him as he enthusiastically took on our cause and so quickly understood the intent and nuances of the journal.  A small idea about producing an Australian voice in a popular form on issues of ecology, spirituality and education gave rise to some very evocative and informative publications and I wish to express heartfelt thanks to this dedicated group of people for bringing the idea to fruition.

As we publish the first edition of Volume 2, Gill will take on the role of scout and photographer, Caroline will continue as a regular columnist and Tom will provide occasional input.  Pat will form part of the editorial group along with some members of the Advisory Panel who will in turn focus on the themes of different editions. We welcome and look forward to working with Nola Ryan as the graphic designer who has provided us with this new colour format and as always we would be very appreciative of your response as reader.

As you turn these pages may you find much encouragement to ponder the notion of ecological selfhood within the rhythms of our dynamic planet.

[i] Berry, T and Swimme,B (1994) The Universe Story, Harper Collins, 40