Sitting outside on a a bright summer day, the sun shines on me warmly. I sense a benevolent energy in its rays, not a force to be feared for causing cancer or to be reviled for heating up our planet. Father Sun is loving Earth as tenderly as a lover. He means no harm in showering her with his warmth, nor does she fear his embrace. She turns her face to Sun, day after day, morning after morning, all the world over. Perhaps Earth loves his embrace so much that she is glad for the chance to keep it closer and closer to her skin. Over her history, she has warmed and cooled many times. Perhaps these cycles are like the lovers' dance: "hold me close," she says, then "let me go." "Please come back," he says, and then "you're suffocating me." Repeat. What if Earth is eagerly greeting the embrace of Father Sun's heat, as an estranged lover eagerly embraces the long-lost Beloved?
We humans have been so busy criticizing each other for (or denying) the parts we are playing in our changing atmosphere with our abundant emissions of greenhouse gases. What if we have simply been playing our part in the love story of the ages? Perhaps Earth holds us in no judgment because she loves the warmth, and she is equally content with an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide as she is with 400 ppm. Indeed, or about half of Earth's existence, her atmosphere of Earth contained something like a quadrillionith of the oxygen that it holds today. In all those millenia, Earth never cursed the gases that historically comprised her atmosphere; why would she now?
Those first bacteria who mastered photosynthesis and excreted oxygen, went extinct when enough of it had accumulated in the atmosphere. Oxygen was a lethal poison to them, much as the CO2 that we exhale is for us. Yes, they were unable to survive in the climate that they had created. What if they were consciously preparing the way for new species for whom oxygen is essential? What if they lovingly gave of themselves so that Love could express in a new and more complex way?
Perhaps we humans are doing the same ~ whether by evolutionary contract or by unconscious accident ~ altering the composition of the atmosphere to allow the evolution of new species. Perhaps SpeciesNext will wonder about our collapse and demise as we wonder about the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Will homo sapiens be the stuff of their myths and legends? Will there be a movie called Holocene Park? Will they warn their children about our excesses?
Or will they praise how advanced we were "for our time," the way that we speak of other civilizations whose time has passed: the Mayans, the ancient Greeks, the Easter Islanders, and the Roman Empire? Perhaps SpeciesNext will bless humans for concentrating carbon dioxide and methane in the air, so that they could evolve and thrive, to have their day in the sun. Perhaps they will erect statues in our honor and name their sacred sites after us. Maybe Homo Sapiens Boulevard will be the name of their most popular expressway.
Earth has been home for countless species that no longer exist here, each one giving of its own unique gifts before moving on and making way for a new creative expression of Life to fluorish. Are we simply One of Them?
Perhaps Earth is as excited about the evolution of SpeciesNext as she is about the changing climate. As a school teacher hopes that next year's class will be smarter, quieter and better behaved, is Earth hoping that SpeciesNext will be more respectful of all the Web of Life* and more grateful for her gifts? Perhaps she feels as done with us as that school teacher feels when the school year winds down and the class is most unruly, their minds completely absorbed in the coming summer vacation. Are we so busy thinking about our next vacation that we are no longer listening to what Earth has to teach us?
Then the day comes that the school year comes to an end, and the teacher sheds a tear, realizing she will miss the rambunctious little buggers, after all, and she remembers their gifts and sees their abilities. Maybe Earth is shedding tears in the form of super storms and tsunamis because she does love us and weeps for our lack of awareness and understanding of our place in Nature. Perhaps the super storms are her way of giving us one more chance to learn something in her classroom before she clears the deck and makes way for SpeciesNext.
How could we we ever know?
Perhaps it is time to ask her. Sit with her quietly and listen. We've done countless experiments only to discover that the act of our observation influences the outcome. We have read ancient texts to discover the wisdom of the ages, only to discover that there are as many interpretations as there are readers. Perhaps it is time to return to the most simple and basic instruction that we give our children: "If you don't know the answer to the question, ask someone who does."
Earth knows. She's ready to talk. Are we ready to listen?
It is the evolution dance, and it is time to pair up. The music is playing. Who is your dance partner?
*I am grateful to David Christopher for is beautiful term the "Web of Life" in his newly released book The Holy Universe (New Story Press, September 23, 2013)