Updated: Apr 22, 2020
The idea that everything affects everything else has fascincated me since childhood. We moved from Michigan to a small island in the Chesapeake Bay when I was seven. We lived on a lake in the middle of the island, and from our house no other house was visible. There was a path leading into the woods along the lake and I would wander along that path. Just eyes, looking.
I found myself lying on my stomach gazing into the world in front of my eyes—a mossy mystery with small plants springing from it looking like miniature trees, various bugs—mostly ants—scurrying about, pebbles that might have been boulders in another world . . .
There I was, seven. The big idea that the moss bed was the same, the very same, as the huge universe I also lived in dawned on me in a flash. Without knowing the words, I was awed by the idea of the microcosm and the macrocosm.
Then I became enthralled with standing on the pier and throwing pebbles in the lake—we lived on Stillwater Road and our ‘lake’ was actually thought of as a pond—and watching the ripples spread in ever widening circles. I’m not sure when my musing led me to the idea that I am dropping my pebble in the pond every moment of every day.
There I was, a little kid, throwing pebbles in the pond, then kneeling by a bed of moss and picturing the scurrying ants among the tiny plants as if they were humans roaming about the planet. Even then I understood that everything affects everything else.
Is it true that the world needs us to be true to ourselves? I believe that every moment we’re dropping our pebble into the pond of life. What is the quality of that dropping? What if what we do in our lives touches everything in the world, in the solar system, in the universe? The stakes are big. What if when one heart heals, everything is affected. All hearts are touched.
What can we do to heal our planet? If we look at the way Nature works, we see that it sometimes moves gently and slowly as when a seedling pushes up through the soil. Sometimes it flows strong and fast as when lava pours out of a fissure in the Earth. Always, whether quickly or slowly, Nature moves inexorably; it is impossible to stop or prevent. How can we humans cooperate with Nature? I have come to believe it is in being our true selves that we live harmoniously with the planet. We are doing the planet justice by being ourselves, by paying attention, by honoring what we value and living true to our deepest knowing. Perhaps that’s our only offering, and I believe it is essential that we offer it.
We may imagine ourselves zooming away from the earth. Sitting out in space, we look back on our planet. We see its exquisite blue and green beauty. We look closer and see the humans scurrying like the ants in that bed of moss. When we die, will it have mattered that we drove the car back and forth to the market 5,763 times, went to work, put meals on the table for forty years? Perhaps. What will matter most, I think, is our attitude when we did those things. Did we take our time? Did we act in love?
Adapted from my book, Great Love in the 21st Century: A Path to Intimacy.