Friday, October 14, 2005

Is blogging new on your radar? At the end of each post, you can click on the word "comments." This will allow you to respond to my postings. A screen will come up and prompt you. Hope to hear from you...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rufous Hummingbird

Hummingbirds-Fierce Guardians of the Real

I was thinking this morning about images that might help bring what I call the practice of spiritual ecology into sharper awareness. Just a while ago, an Anna's hummingbird came to my window and hung for a few seconds, not three feet away. The brilliant magenta gorget flashed for an instant, and then he was gone. I started to think about what I've experienced of hummingbirds. First came an awed appreciation of hummingbirds just for their being in the world. They are a remarkable emergence. There are many reasons: their lightness, their beauty, their size, their color, their adroitness and quickness. All of these add up to familiar qualities associated with them—lightness and joy.

But there is a quality of hummingbirds that I feel is even more compelling in a time when so much of the planet is in peril. It's an attribute of these small birds that many find difficult—they fight a lot. Hardly an image to inspire the peace activist or the advocate for cooperation. Here's another way to see it: Hummingbirds are fierce guardians of what they perceive to be of ultimate value—nectar. And here is the challenge to the human, our human version, in our higher order of evolutionary complexity, of this fierce guardianship: We must be fierce in our guardianship of what is of ultimate value to us. When I say ultimate, I mean fundamental. And by fundamental, I mean primal. "The ultimate nature of things," to draw on Alfred North Whitehead. The beauty and integrity of planet Earth is something worth being compassionately fierce about.

There's another reason to value the hummer's fierce obsession with nectar. It has ignited a unique kind of co-evolution deepening the diversity of flowers on Earth. Actually, a particular kind of flower called "ornithophilous" flower, or, bird-loving flowers. The next time you stop to admire penstemon, or similarly shaped flower, thank the hummingbird for its obsession with nectar. Our own obsession with what nourishes us can elicit such creativity. To move toward what most deeply moves us is a move toward the affirmation of life, the lure of being for being that gives rise to further complexification. Let me add here that the hummingbird's singular obsession with nectar gave rise not only to new forms of flowers, but to a remarkable array of color in the plumage of the hummingbird itself. Its resemblance to the vivid color of nectar flowers may help protect it from predators.

What does this "coat of many colors" inspire in the human? What I felt when I first saw the purple flash of Lucifer's hummingbird's throat—a deep desire to put into words what took my breath away. The result has been a cascade of linguistic attempts to capture the evolutionary array of hummingbird plumage. Here's a sample: Long-billed starthroat, black-throated mango, fork-tailed woodnymph, blossomcrown, purple-crowned fairy, the Magnificent, black-hooded sunbeam, to name a few. And perhaps my favorite: the sparkling violetear.

I invite you to share images of your own on this blog. Add to the "blizzard of images" cosmologist Brian Swimme says we need to move our imagination beyond its fixation with industrial culture.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Welcome to Earth Voices

Hello and welcome to Earth Voices, a blog that will explore the wonder and mystery of our living planet. The human species is a part of that wonder. We are Earth, as surely as the oak tree outside our back window, or the soil that grows our food, or the pounding surf, or the rainforest seething with life. How do we more deeply embed this awareness—and this sense of wonder—into our every day living? How do we begin to think like a planet and celebrate our role in her evolution? What are new ways of being human that will enhance the community of life of which we are a part?

I will be posting searching thoughts, long-simmering reflections, budding ideas, sudden inspirations, poetry, and other writings here, and I hope they ignite reverence for all life and encourage similar exploration and comments in you. I hope you will bookmark my site and come back often.

Lauren de Boer