Begin with the earth that sustains us…

Anyone looking for the holy land might best begin with the earth that sustains us …

Rev Forrest Church, UU Minister

The holy holds you in stillness, calms all the mental chatter, the anxieties and fears that press. It focuses the power, mystery and beauty of the universe. It connects you brilliantly to the interdependent web of all existence. If for only a moment you have no questions or answers. The infinite unification of the cosmos dissolves separation. You are at home. Approaching this state becomes easier when the hills and woods slip from winter duff to the green of new life, when the turkeys call and the creek sings after a long silence. Yesterday evening Chuck and I sat up by the old smoke house and watched the last of the sun sink beneath the swelling buds of the oaks. In the presence of this tranquility enervation seeps out as I hear the myriad birds and the new calves calling to their mothers, smell the fecundity of the warming earth and bite into asparagus fresh from the garden.

Recently Bill Moyers interviewed Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., ecologist, author, cancer survivor and authority on environmental links to human health. Married to an artist and the parent of two children she dedicates her life to finding the holy balance between those things she loves and that which threatens its health. She doesn’t hang out in a doomsday world. As a scientist she understands that the reality of global warming is worse than predicted, yet she chooses love to guide her as she gives herself to the joys of being a mother and an environmental activist willing to go to jail for acts of civil disobedience.

Steingraber knows the tension of how love can spill over into frustration, when she asks a New York congressman to release public health reports on fracking in the Finger Lakes area of New York where she lives. He just turns and walks away from her. She has sent him dozens of requests for the public health impact statement on fracking and storing the gas. She has gotten no response. He refuses to engage in an honest conversation on the subject at a public hearing. She begins to yell at him, “Why, why, why won’t you release this study?” He won’t answer.

Weeks later she links arms with a number of protestors to prevent the progress of the Kansas City based company hired to assist in the fracking work. Instead of paying the $385 fine she resists any complicity by going to jail for 15 days. Her second day in jail is Earth Day. She celebrates it by writing a letter to the world. Check it out.

I love this woman, her passion and the courage to do what her conscience requires so that she can balance her moral duty to her family, public and ecological wellbeing of the earth. It’s not enough for me to just sit on the high ground of the Flint Hills and revel in its wonders. Atrazine one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. is banned in the European Union. Approximately 75 percent of our stream water and about 40 percent of all groundwater samples from agricultural areas tested in an extensive U.S. Geological Survey study contained atrazine. The U.S. EPA’s inadequate monitoring systems and weak regulations compound the problem, allowing levels of atrazine in watersheds and drinking water to rise to extremely high concentrations. It is being sprayed a couple miles from me as I write this.

Asking questions and getting true answers about the use of herbicides and pesticides that are linked to cancer, miscarriages, and increased health risks to the newly born as well as the old must be a democratic right, a holy right. But it means nothing if we don’t participate in the democratic process of protecting what we find holy. What can we do as religious liberals to help create the holy balance between reverence and action? How can we collectively be more responsible stewards of the Northern Flint Hills, the Kaw Valleys and its bodies of water that we rely on for our existence?

In honor of all that is truly holy,


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