Dear Earth, what can I see?On 13th May 2020 by Satya
I see our vegetable patch, through my office window. There are our month-old seedlings – courgettes, kale, cauliflower, cucumber, squash. Ruffled green sprigs of potato leaves have poked their way up through the earth. There is flimsy lettuce, just-germinated chard, and a self-seeded marigold which has been socking us in the eye with luminous orange flowers for weeks.
A few nights ago you sent us some heavy weather, dear Earth. The wind howled, and I sat inside worrying for our seedlings. In the morning one courgette plant was snapped in two, and that was all. It seemed miraculous.
We are all weathering some heavy weather right now. Across the globe, a virus is snapping people in half. The collateral damage is massive and we are still at the beginning. As usual, those who are already vulnerable will suffer more. Our friends who have lived a long time. Our friends whose bodies are already weak. Our friends in refugee camps, in prisons, in countries with weak healthcare, in villages where there isn’t enough to eat.
We are getting an early taste of how it will be when your systems break down, darling Earth. When the thick blanket of carbon dioxide raises your temperature by just two degrees more. When extreme weather gets more extreme, more lethal. When we begin to forget all the species we have lost. When empty supermarket shelves become the new normal. When we can no longer keep our children safe.
How is it possible to face this great suffering? How is it possible to live with our fear, our grief, our rage, our hopelessness, without it overwhelming us? How can we prepare for the heavy dark clouds on the horizon?
My grey stone Buddha sits on my windowsill, just where I can see him. He knows all about the foolishness of the human race, and he doesn’t despair of us. He holds stillness in his body as if it were a flower. He watches it all unfold and his compassion is unbroken.
Don’t forget to water your seedlings, he says to me. The bird seed needs topping up – look, a goldfinch is waiting. When you go through to make yourself a cup of tea, don’t forget to pause and stroke your dogs. Ralph is dreaming, maybe of rabbits, and little squeaks escape him as his legs judder. As he feels my hand on his flanks he sighs, stretches, and settles.
Sometimes the storms will break those around us, or leave us with wounds that never heal. When this happens, the Buddha is there to console us. Sometimes seedlings survive storms, and the whipping wind strengthens their stems, and they grow stronger than before. When this happens, the Buddha is there to encourage us. Sometimes storms bring new seeds, and astonishingly beautiful new life. When this happens, the Buddha is there to celebrate with us.
There will be tragedies, and there will be miracles, dear Earth. Right now, a pigeon is waddling between the vegetable plants, finding tasty things to eat. The white splash around his neck and the blush at his chest are quite wonderful.