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A Spiritual Space

March 16, 2010

spirit and the environment

It was recently discovered that the beaches surrounding Harwood Island, an uninhabited sacred island in the Tla’Amin First Nation territory, were littered with styrofoam and other pollution that washed up from the ocean.

With Earth Week events coming together, including an annual Community Clean-Up in Powell River, it may be a good time to reflect upon the big picture in terms of the very existence sacred spaces, and what this means in a secular age.

Where a multiplicity of beliefs and cultures need to co-exist, it is often the case that in order to accommodate everyone, ideas such as defining and maintaining sacred spaces are disregarded. The sacred is almost necessarily seen as unquantifiable, sentimental or even superstitious. While most spiritual traditions support community and an empathetic ethos, most of these developed during times when rampant resource extraction and pollution were unheard of, and probably unimaginable. In a way, Environmentalism itself can be seen as a trans-spiritual tradition that advocates for the respect of the land, air and waters we creatures all share, to ensure that we and future generations will be able to sustain ourselves; we’re all in this together, for the long haul. While we may enforce  anti-litter laws with hefty penalties, it may be time to focus more on the sacredness of all our natural surroundings; on the joys they give us and on the responsibility we have to ensure that we and our future generations will be able to enjoy these. In many ways, Environmentalism is a reinterpretation of our role as stewards for planet Earth, where we are beginning to better appreciate our awesome power to harm our environment, as well as our ability to mend it, and change our ways.

It may be that framing the current debates on climate change and mass overconsumption can , in a spiritual sense, present a more cohesive world view that advocates not for nature-worship, but for a realization that we are not alone, and that there is a future we ought to be preparing for.

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