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All Earth is Waiting for Wholeness

Since our Advent theme is Wholeness this year, let’s begin by defining wholeness. Wholeness for our purposes is about becoming fully ourselves without diminishing another. It is about living into our own sacredness, our own authenticity. When we experience moments of wholeness we feel peace, compassion, respect, acceptance, and balance. I believe wholeness does not just apply to people, but to all of creation when each piece is allowed to live into the fullness of their purpose.

As Ilia Delio wrote in The Hours of the Universe, “The earth is holy, people are holy, plants are holy, trees are holy, animals are holy, and all life is called into a greater wholeness, a unity in love that is compassionate, forgiving, peaceful, and unitive. The earth is one glorious moving mass of interconnected energy fields in space. Religion is the awareness that this incredible planet has infinite purpose and meaning, a future fullness of life, a wellspring of life that exceeds our human capacity to imagine.”

Advent, for me, is about much more than the birth of Jesus. It is a story of the birth of a higher consciousness. Think about it. Jesus’ way of thinking and acting, his way of understanding God and life was much different, it was not simply revolutionary, but evolutionary. He was inviting people to evolve to a deeper level of Self, a higher level of connection with Love, a more compassionate level of being with all other people, a new level of spiritual consciousness beyond the bounds of traditional religion.

For me, the birth of Jesus is important to remember and reflect upon, not (as many Christians will say this season) because he would save us from sin and death, but because if we follow his path, his example and teachings, that path moves us out our own egos, away from isolation and into unity. If we could embrace the higher consciousness he demonstrated, maybe we could let go of our pettiness and hatred. Maybe we could be released from the web of greed, selfishness, success, and judgment. He literally shows us that human beings can BE so much more without needing to HAVE so much more.

If we strive to live at that higher level of consciousness, we will remember that all the world is connected, and strive to do things to re-member it AND ourselves, to put it back together, to bring the wholeness our souls and the earth yearn for.

Let me illustrate this higher consciousness by using a symbol from another culture, the indigenous cultures of the United States. A number of years ago on a mission trip to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I purchased a medicine wheel, or sacred hoop from a Native artisan. This sacred symbol holds many teachings on how to live.

First, the shape reminds us that life is a circle, all are born and all die. All come from the earth and return to the earth. There is no beginning or ending to our souls, we are eternal. The circle is always divided into four quadrants which mark the four directions, the four seasons, the four elements, the four stages of life, the four states of being (mental, physical, spiritual, emotional). And the four colors (black, yellow, red and white) represent all people on earth. Each quadrant also has a spirit plant and spirit animal associated with it.

The circle symbolizes the equality of all forms of life. It’s not a hierarchy, or a food-chain. All aspects of life are interconnected and every member in the circle must be true to themselves and their purpose to maintain the integrity of the hoop, or we lose balance. Right now, it is humanity that is not upholding our part of the sacred hoop. We have destroyed the wholeness of creation through pollution, fracking, oil spills, over-forestation, carbon emissions, light pollution, damming of rivers and more.

In our ignorance and greed, we have upset the balance. We have neglected to ask whether the things we have done have not just been good for us, but good for the environment, the animals, the air, the water, the soil. And not just in the present, but for the future. To use a Native American question, how will this act affect people seven generations from now?

Choosing to tap into the model of Jesus and live at a higher level of consciousness, there are things we can do to help bring the earth back into balance and wholeness. Gratefully, there are many stories of people and organizations working to re-member our world, let me share just one.

According to the Defenders of Wildlife, in a little over a decade (from 1914 to 1926) 136 wolves that lived within the Yellowstone Park were eliminated. This was before we understood the connectedness of wildlife – before we knew the value of intact ecosystems. Before we knew about climate change and biodiversity and loss. Wiping out an apex predator in the park turned out to be a major mistake.

Seventy years without wolves changed Yellowstone – songbirds left, elk and coyotes became overpopulated, and beavers disappeared. Elks overgrazed the land and trees, such as willow and aspen. Without those trees, songbirds began to decline. Beavers could no longer build their dams, and streams began to erode and degrade the conditions willow trees needed to grow. Without beaver’s dams and the shade from trees and plants, water temperatures were too high for cold water fish.

In 1973, the Endangered Species Act was passed, and the gray wolf was one of the first species listed as endangered, mandating protection and recovery planning. But, it took decades for Americans to come around on wolf reintroduction. With a lot persistence, it finally happened. In 1995 the first wolf crate was set on the ground in Yellowstone National Park.

The changes in the park have been significant. Wolf reintroduction has rebalanced elk and deer populations, allowing the willows and aspen to return to the landscape. The end to overgrazing stabilized riverbanks and rivers recovered and flowed in new directions. Songbirds returned as did beavers, eagles, foxes and badgers.

Let me share one more story told by Connie Zweig in The Inner Work of Age:

Once upon a time, long long ago in China, there was a great drought. For months there had not been a drop of rain, and the situation became catastrophic. Finally, someone said, “We will fetch the rainmaker.”

From another province a dried-up old man appeared. The only thing he asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day the clouds gathered, and there was a great snowstorm. The town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rainmaker that someone finally went to ask the man how he had done it.

“They call you the rainmaker. Will you tell me how you made the snow?”

“I did not make the snow. I am not responsible.”

“But what have you done these three days?”

“Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order. They are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven. Therefore, the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So, I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao, and then naturally the rain came.”

This tale is a story about a wise elder who knows that to bring things back into alignment and harmony one must start within. In awareness of himself, he saw that he was out of alignment with his source, the life energy known as Tao. Before he could be himself, the rainmaker, he had to come back into alignment with the Tao. Once he was realigned and once again dwelt within a higher consciousness, nature responds, because there is unity between the two. The inner work and the outer work are one.  

I don’t mean to suggest that some sort of magic is going to reforest our earth, or unpollute our water, or bring back animal populations going extinct. But I do mean that as we work to align with source, to see the unity of all, the beauty and purpose of everything and everyone within the circle of life, we will change the way we live in the world, seeing the sacredness of all and making choices that will lead toward healing and wholeness for the entirety of creation.

Love & Light!