To Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Earth
See the sun rise or set if possible each day.
Let that be your pill.
As members of the Sierra Club our official charge is to “explore, enjoy, and protect the earth.” In just the past eleven days I have been to Sierra general meetings in both Jacksonville and St. Augustine, two Sierra political/legislative meetings, a Sierra Board meeting, and a conservation committee session attended by some of the top Sierra leaders in our state. A whole lot is going on right now with the Republican state legislature being in session, President Bush backing off several of the few environmental promises he made in the campaign, critical decisions to be made by our Northeast Florida Group in regard to development fights now on the front burner, and on and on. The conflict inherent in much of our charge to “protect” the earth can be very stressful, even overwhelming, at times.
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in the beauty on the waters, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and I am free.
I receive upward of 20 e-mails and phone calls a day on Sierra matters – some from national out of San Francisco, some from the Florida Chapter, some from Susie Caplowe, our state lobbyist frantically at work in Tallahassee, many from Board members working on important club matters, and a number from others who see my e-mail address and phone number in the newsletter and seek assistance on environmental concerns. As I watch the Sierra wheels turning on all these different levels I marvel at how much work is involved in what we do – and I shudder to think what would happen to our wetlands, our clean springs and rivers, our forests, our manatees, our black bears, if we – the Sierra Club – didn’t push ourselves so hard to “protect the earth.”
Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature – if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warbled of the first bluebird does not thrill you – know that the morning and spring of your life are past. Thus may you feel your pulse.”
Last weekend I was studying the “anti-citizen standing legislation” which most probably will come before the Florida legislature this session. It was sponsored by Jacksonville’s Jim King last year and failed, thank goodness. It directly attacks our citizen’s right to make the government enforce our own laws by making it much more difficult for regular citizens – and thus, the Sierra Club – to get into the judicial system in order to “protect the earth.” As I reviewed the proposed legislation and the comments from its proponents about the need to restrict citizen’s rights to stand up against developers and apathetic government regulators, I became quite upset. Finally, I went to my garage, grabbed my trusty kayak, carried it down to the water and took off paddling out into the marshes by the Intracoastal Waterway. I wanted to take a step back from “protecting” and concentrate on “exploring and enjoying” for a bit. After a couple of hours seeing the lazy flight of herons and egrets, watching ospreys soar overhead looking for dinner, noticing the tails of redfish swirling the water’s surface, and just being out in the quiet of the Castaway Island Preserve (a recent wonderful purchase by Mayor Delaney in the city’s Preservation Project) I was refreshed, invigorated, and reminded of why all this hard work is so very, very important.
“When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most interminable and, to the citizen, most dismal swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place – a sanctum santorum. There is the strength, the marrow of Nature.”
When you’re feeling the blues (for whatever reason) let the bounty of nature absorb it – rest in “the grace of the world” – while you “explore and enjoy.”