Celebrate the Earth

Midweek Faith Lift

April 24, 2024

Celebrating the Earth

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis


Spiritual Passages

The Most Precious Thing There Is



          Tech companies are hoping to get rid of a timekeeping headache: the leap second. Every few years a second is added to Coordinated Universal Time to keep it in sync with the earth’s rotation. The problem is that it can wreak havoc on the precision of the world’s servers, affecting the operations of airlines, financial markets, and other institutions.


          “Time isn’t precious at all because it is an illusion. What is precious is the one point that is out of time: the Now. The more you are focused on time - past and future - the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” - Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now


           Affirmative prayer:  I live in the eternal now, allowing the goodness of Life to bless me this instant. Today, for at least a few moments, I cease looking to the past for validation and to the future for hope. I am in sync with the Divine as I abide in this sacred moment. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.



As we celebrate Earth Day tomorrow, and we contemplate the fragility of our Island home as it hangs out in space, the irony of the opening story really hits home.  No matter how clever we are, how superior we believe our inventions and technology, the Earth has the final say!  A second is added to Coordinated Universal Time because of the Earth’s rotation.  Think about that!  We cannot control the Earth’s rotation, not even for one second. What a blessing that is for sure!  There needs to be something that keeps us humble, that keeps us aware of the Earth and takes us back to our heart, for sure.  And how ironic that it is our insatiable need to control time, which is a human construct for sure. 


There are so many things that humans have tried to establish as “truth” about the earth for the purposes of exerting control over the planet and one another for centuries.  As I was researching information for this talk, I came across this little tidbit from Scott Awbrey’s website, Spiritual Passages 4-6-24:


          "Centuries after the Greeks figured out that the earth must be round - because, among other things, it cast a round shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse – the (Catholic) church clung tenaciously to both a three-story, geocentric universe and a God in three persons. The trouble began almost immediately, however, since a God who is "up" and a hell that is "down" made a lot less sense on a round planet. Then, when Copernicus insisted that the earth circled the sun, and not the other way around, the church went into crisis mode. It condemned both Copernicus and Galileo for the sin of being right." - Robin Meyers, Saving God From Religion


          "The Buddha said that there are three things cannot be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. Well, he got one out of three right." - Scott Awbrey


The truth will always out, something to remember on this Earth Day, 2024.


Two weeks ago tomorrow, we witnessed the total eclipse of the sun which, for sure, was an experience of being in the now moment.  It was a mysterious, powerful and spiritual experience, which was able to bring several million Americans together to witness it without incident, power play or acting out behavior.  And that is saying something, these days!  Todd and I crawled south at 5 mph on I-55 for 4.5 hours with thousands of other people to reach our selected vantage point.  It was a slow moving pilgrimage with everyone cooperating and working together to get to the place of totality.  People let other people change lanes, exit the highway and then get back on without a fuss.  And that was true on both ends of the trip as the return took 3.5 hours!!


Was it worth it?  Yes!  It was a deeply powerful experience and at the very first instant, all the people in the gravel parking lot where we were clapped enthusiastically.  On reflection, it was clapping for delight and joy and a sense of awe and wonder, something we rarely experience in our culture.  As it progressed and we watched the corona, the sunlight around the moon, it got completely dark, and we could see stars and planets.  The streetlights came on and the birds were flying about like it was nighttime. The temperature dropped and it got quite cool and a breeze came up.  People took photos, but mostly they just looked up in wonder.  All who were present just stood in awe, celebrating the earth, the moon and the sun as we all stood rooted on the earth.


It was truly a mystical experience, a spiritual experience.  It was something beyond us that lifted us out of pettiness, for at least a day!  It was heartening to me that we could share it without anyone figuring out how to charge admission or create a profit center around this event.  There were t-shirts for sale saying “I got mooned in Missouri” and apparently hotel rooms in the area were going for a greatly inflated price.  But the owner of the gas station/convenience store and gravel lot just let everyone park, use the bathrooms and watch for free!  Amazing that we can still do that for each other.  People did buy gas, food and patronized the business for sure which was a natural windfall, but not driven by greed.  How refreshing!


One of the other features of this shared experience was that we all went outside to watch it.  No one was watching it on a device rather than watching the real thing, another astonishing feature of this experience.  We were all outside and the weather was just gorgeous, something for which everyone was also expressing appreciation, another collectively rare event! 


Research tells us that one of the best ways to dissipate stress of any kind is to walk outside and be in nature.  Apparently trees give off a chemical that is calming to our nervous system and decreases the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in our blood.  When cortisol is reduced, inflammation is reduced throughout our bodies and we function much better overall. It also slows the aging process when we reduce inflammation.  And all it takes is being outside where there are trees and plants just doing what they do.  A total eclipse of the sun is no doubt restorative, but not required for nature to heal us.


That is one bit of “truth” right now that is so glaringly obvious that we fail to really grasp it.  We as a people, as a culture, as earth inhabitants are desperately in need of healing.  Before Covid and since Covid, our collective mind, body and spirit have been under assault and growing more impaired, sick and in need of healing.  There are simple solutions, which would be of great help, but it is a challenge for us to embrace the more simple solutions. Our over-thinking brains tell us it has to be more complicated than just spending time in nature, so unless there is a total eclipse, we won’t even try that.  When we begin to awaken to the reality of the suffering of one another, we will awaken to the reality of the suffering of the earth.  When we begin to allow the earth to heal us collectively as seemed to happen during the eclipse, then perhaps we will collectively realize how much we need to heal the earth, together. 


It is true that there is great power in the NOW moment and that all we really are able to be fully present to is this now moment.  But the mystery and paradox of life is that we will never escape our human experience, which does plan for the future and reflect on the past.  If we had not planned for it, Todd and I could never have been present to that AHHHH moment of the total eclipse. And the experience of that moment impacts how we perceive and feel about future moments.  So, much like the Taoist perspective that we learned about last week, our journey is to hold the both/and, the mystery of the NOW / NOT NOW which exist together as a constant.  What we do NOW matters because it impacts the future and the choices we make are influenced by the past. 


How do we navigate that journey mindfully?  The native peoples of our land understood that they needed to be mindful of seven generations ahead so that Mother Earth and Father Sky would support and sustain all of creation.  They were aware of and honored all directions and the ancestors in a consciousness of reverence.  In our western, over-thinking superiority complex, we call that perspective primitive and naïve.  Climate change, global warming and the heating of the earth are calling us to task for our lack of true relationship with the Earth and all her creatures.  And I am as mindless as the next person when it comes to driving my gasoline-powered car and flying and using plastics and on and on. 


But if we can collectively take a breath and get out of our heads and into our hearts for the awe and wonder of a total eclipse of the sun, then it is possible that we can begin to once again be in awe of this fragile earth that is our home.  As the sun disappeared during the eclipse and the temperature dropped, I had a momentary intense awareness of how vitally important the sun is to our life on earth.  For sure this journey is a journey of the heart and when we realize that the words “heart” and “earth” are anagrams of each other, we can truly come home in love.


I want to close with a Native American song, which I learned at Dances of Universal Peace last Sunday:


Arise, Arise, Arise

Arise, Arise, Arise

Wake ye arise, life is calling you

Wake ye arise, life is greeting you

Mother Earth, God, she is calling you

Mother Earth, God, she is greeting


Arise, Arise, Arise

Arise, Arise, Arise!


Blessings on the Path!

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis