Quote of the day: In his new book, Awakening: Musings on Planetary Survival, Earth Day pioneer Sam Love tells us that, “No one is alone, we are all part of life’s web / With each breath, we inhale, remnants of the universe, and exhale nourishment for plants / Who knows what spirits hitchhike in each breath, each morsel of food or each drink of water?” Do these spiritual fragments transform us, in ways too subtle for calculation?
Commentary: One of the joys of this 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day has been reacquainting myself with the women and men that managed those first environmental teach-ins and mentored young ones like myself. Of all the members of Earth Day’s organizing team, Sam Love — then a civil rights activist and editor, mentored me the most, offering generosity and wisdom to me during that landmark moment in the history of the environmental movement. While some of colleagues became leaders of environmental non-profits and agencies, scientists or journalists, Sam continued on another path that led him to a ministry and writing poetry. Yes, he continued to fight for the rights of minority farmworkers and mill workers who had been exposed to levels of toxins far higher than those now allowed by EPA and FDA. Yet, Sam did all of his work with a deeply ethical, moral and spiritual anchor that I sense from him to this day. Did working on the first Earth Day have a transformative effect on Sam Love? Well, that might not be the best question to elicit the motivations for his journey. Did Sam ever stop allowing himself to be transformed—from well before Earth Day to the present moment? My guess is that question better encompasses Sam’s journey, and it should be the key question for ours as well.
Suggested Action #41: As you walk, think of the questions that have propelled you on your personal journey. Live those questions.
Gary Paul Nabhan aka Brother Coyote is a professed member of the Ecumenical Order of Franciscans, a graduate of the Living School, a conservation biologist, orchard-keeper and story-teller.