Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wrapped In Mama Gaia's Loving Arms

I follow folksinger Janis Ian on Facebook, and she has a quote of the day feature; today's was: "I wish people cared as much about the earth as they did about who they think created it. - Unknown". My comment was: "As a pantheist who wraps himself in Mama Gaia as often as possible, this states my attitude exactly!" Heh, heh! And of course I shared it to my own timeline!

This is an issue I tackle often. Much of mainstream religion - and by mainstream I include not only the Judeo-Christian group but also Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. - downplays the physical world and the oh-so-fleshly human animal. It sees nature and humanity as a distraction, an illusion to lure humanity away from the spiritual world. As Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, translates Ecclesiastes 1:2 ("Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." King James Version): "Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.] There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke." There it is again - the world is an illusion, a tissue of lies meant to deceive and distract.

As anyone who has followed this blog (and my presence on the former and on Facebook) knows by now, I totally reject this perspective; it's anti-human and destructive to the world. It's the basis to the thought pattern behind the willful pollution of land, air, and water; why take care of this place if our real home is in some non-physical place and this world is just a waystation? And it's the attitude behind the belief that humanity is perverted by nature and needs to be saved by some other-worldly magical power. Talk about setting up the whole human race for a massive case of self-hatred! Oh yes, I reject that kind of thinking with my whole being.

To me, all creation is sacred, and all together we form the Divine; each physical thing - human, animal, vegetable, mineral, star, microbe, etc. - is a cell in one universal body. And as the Tao Te Ching teaches, each component needs to work in harmony with the whole for the whole to survive. For that whole to work, each component needs to regard all the others as sacred. As the Tao says, remain centered in the Way and harmony will prevail.

For me, that means allowing myself to be wrapped in the loving arms of Mama Gaia, to walk the woods and the hills and the salt marshes and become one with it all. This is what my walks around the area, even while doing such mundane things as going to work or the grocery store, mean to me. I'm plugging in and recharging. Far from being a distracting illusion, immersing myself in this very tangible and beautiful world is what keeps me sane and healthy. I did that again today, and you can come with me.

Nature's beauty is everywhere, even downtown
Fallen Autumn leaves
Asian Bittersweet berries, Autumn's gift to seasonal decorators
The rolling hills of Central PA, seen from the upland meadow in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Tree fungus along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A view of the Dykeman Spring wetland in late Autumn

Someone responded to my comment on Janis's post on Facebook by calling me a hippie atheist. Well, that's actually a title that makes me proud, as long as you substitute pantheist for atheist. Hey, just call me a hippie; that's enough to make my week!
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 


  1. I can't say I have the same relationship with nature - that's not how I recharge - but I totally don't get how one could worship a creator yet treat his creations--the environment, his creatures, one's fellow humans--with contempt and complete disregard for their preservation.

    That isn't love of a creator, that's contempt and a sociopathic self-absorption.

  2. I believe it's important to treat nature well....and that's coming from a Christian. Hope you don't lump us all in the same group as the crazies! ha.. :)

  3. Very well put, and superbly illustrated to boot!

  4. Fabulous images (as always) Beauty not just in the tangible and beautiful world, but also in the photographs that depict it.

  5. "Spiritual" teachings, all of 'em, have been abused by the wendigos. That being said, I totally relate to recharging through immersion in nature, without recourse to any teaching. And I can see it in your pics. Nice work.