Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When Morning Gilds the Skies

I woke up around 1 a.m. or so unable to fall back asleep--so I got up and worked on some writing projects.  By 5:30, I was ready for some exercise.  My sister and I are going to start a running program, but I wasn't thinking it would be this morning.

But I felt a strange restlessness at the thought of just walking.  So I thought, let me just try running a few blocks--but lo and behold, I found I could keep running for a half hour.

Part of it was that the temperature and humidity had fallen to easier to run through ranges.  But part was the beauty of the pre-dawn sky.  I thought of that hymn "When Morning Gilds the Skies."  Gild was the correct verb for this morning.

I had ecology on the brain as I so often do when moving through the morning.  Plus, I've been reading Bill McKibben's latest book, Oil and Honey.  I have that sense of time warping--the book covers the beginning of the protest against the pipeline back in 2011, and here we are, years later, still waiting to see how it all turns out, with a possible vote in the Senate today.

Regardless of how the vote goes, it's important to remember that the vote has been delayed for years because of the actions of this band of protestors.  And President Obama may prevent the construction of the pipeline, if the Senate and the House give approval--and that would not have been the case without this protest movement.

The movement was helped by the larger institutionalized protest groups--but the bulk of the movement was comprised of ordinary folks.  McKibben, himself, is a fairly ordinary guy:  a teacher and a writer at midlife.  He shows the way that a movement can be built:  he knows these people who know these people and eventually, they get the attention of the White House.

The book also tells the story of one of the more successful beekeepers in the U.S.  It explores the ways that people can combine resources:  McKibben has a bit of money to buy some land, but no time to care for it the way he would like.  The beekeeper has vast knowledge, but no money to buy land.  They combine forces to find that interesting twists and turns happen.

It's a book about the land and all the ways we might save it.  It's a book about ordinary citizens and the power that they have.  It's a good reminder in these political times.

And regardless of how the vote goes, McKibben continuously reminds us (and I'm only halfway through the book) that the environmental struggle is never truly won.  I would say that the flip side is that the battle is never truly lost either.  I've written this before, but it bears repeating:  when I was a child, you couldn't swim in many of the country's rivers--and they sometimes caught fire. Now you can swim in most of them without too much fear. When I was a child, in major metropolitan areas, you could see the air you were breathing. Now, you can't, at least in Europe and the U.S.

It's good to remember that we've thought that the planet was doomed before--and yet, here we still are.  And many a scientist would remind us that even if human life becomes unsustainable on this planet, other life forms will likely thrive in our absence.

On a glorious morning like this one, I was ready to quit worrying altogether.  I thought of the words of John the Baptist:  "I am not the Messiah."  I thought of some children whom I knew decades ago who would see a glorious sunrise and say, "Great show, God!"

Great show, God!

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