Posted by: pilgrm34 | August 6, 2011

the spell

August 4, 2011

Entranced by the sparkle of sunlight on the water at Columbia Slough, I meditate while resting on the bridge railing. The swirls of cotton on the surface from nearby cottonwood trees trace the direction and pace of the lazy current.

It’s flowing backwards away from the Willamette. The tide is in. The cavorting baby mallards are hiding today because crows are lined up on a half submerged tree near the island shore. Instead, larger mallards are splashing water on their feathered backs and flapping dry on the beach.

The sound of motorcycles revving breaks the spell. It’s another race day. I continue on the dike trail to spot a row of five tiny, impossibly endearing young swallows sitting side by side on a small horizontal branch at water’s edge. They wait for their swooping parents to bring food. I see the head of a swimming mammal, smallish, possibly a muskrat or young nutria but it dives when it sees me. I wait for quite a while but it does not resurface.

What do environmental issues have to do with western spiritual tradition? Judaism and Christianity? I’ve just finished reading Endgame, vol. 2 by Derrick Jensen who expresses the popular belief that Scripture is one of the structures of control by “the man.”  I disagree. It didn’t start that way anyway. The roots of Judeo-Christianity in Scripture are in fact deeply radical and anti-Empire. Witness the foundational book of Exodus, a story about rejection of the god-like human authority of Pharaoh. The spiritual records of both Judaism and Christianity express a rejection of idolatry inherent in Empire in favor of trust in the Divine. The Divine is found in wilderness and appears to be YHWH’s preferred setting. Wilderness tradition of Scripture figures large in the foundational five books of the Torah. In fact, it is interesting that two-thirds of the story takes place in a wilderness setting.

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