Co-Evolution | by Holly Hudley

Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, “God is dead.” He rocked the theological and philosophical world of his time. I don’t know if this is what he meant, but the way I have come to interpret the death of God is that the anthropomorphic, human centered, magically intervening God that must be appeased is (and should be) dead. Nietzsche came out of a time where reason triumphed and human invention exploded. Though inflammatory and often taken as such, Nietzsche himself was not a nihilist. An atheist, yes, but no nihilist. He had great faith in human reason and implored the necessity of personal responsibility. The God he proclaimed dead is, frankly, a God I also do no believe in. I wonder if Nietzsche inadvertently called for a new way to believe in reality. The God of reality - the cosmos, the gravitational pull between all things, the relational nature of, well, nature - is as alive as you and me. This relationship between all things exists whether we choose to participate in it or not, whether we believe in it or not.

Bill spoke into this yesterday: We are the universe becoming conscious of itself. We are evolution from the ground up. Everything that ever was is in us, from stardust to the dinosaurs to Mozart. We are stardust in human form. And the amazing thing is our evolution is not static. We are in an ever expanding loop with all of creation. The question is how will we choose to participate? With active hope or as passive bystanders?

For more than 35 million years, elephants have evolved and adapted to a changing earth. To put it into context, our first human ancestors appeared only 5-7 million years ago. Today, scientists observe that about one third of African elephants never grow tusks as an adaptation to avoid poaching. This is their protest to a civil war, a consumerist war not of their making. It is, perhaps, their silent plea to humans to evolve past senseless violence. They are harbingers for our survival and theirs. This dance, where predator and prey must respond and adapt to one another, is called co-evolution. It can be life giving, mutually enhancing, and it can also be destructive.

As Nature continues to adapt to us, her breath grows ever wearier. We’ve got to get it out of our heads that nature is here for us to consume.  We are but part of nature, another step in the universe’s grand project of evolving consciousness. Paul Simon, outstanding lyricist and songwriter, wrote:

Too many people on the bus from the airport

Too many holes in the crust of the earth

The planet groans

Every time it registers another birth...

Never been lonely

Never been lied to

Never had to scuffle in fear

Nothing denied to

Born at the instant

The church bells chime

And the whole world whispering

Born at the right time”

Every single one of us was, I believe, born at the right time. That we are here at all is both a miracle and exactly as it ought to be. How are you, in your own small and unique way, meant to co-evolve in consciousness?

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An allegorical painting by Holly Hudley

Braiding Skywoman, Eve, Our Stories | by Brooke Summers-Perry

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Sometimes text conjures an image. Sometimes an image inspires a story... this morning Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass puts words to my digital collage that celebrates my Irish and Oneida Earth mothers.

"And then they met- the offspring of Skywoman and the children of Eve- and the land around us bears the scars of that meeting, the echoes of our stories. They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and I can only imagine the conversation between Eve and Skywoman: "Sister, you got the short end of the stick..."

I take this as a challenge to find a way for my time here to be a time of love, healing, and the curiosity it takes to be creative. To learn from the past, be fully present to what is, to bring light to what can be in the future.

Grace in, Peace out, 

Brooke

Distilling Dowd | by Holly Hudley

During the Michael Dowd lectures, someone issued me a challenge: Distill Michael Dowd into 3 take aways for your next blog post. (Probably a joke, but I’m one to dive straight in to a challenge, so I accept!)

Big Idea #1: What is reality? Or What is God?

(Really, Holly. You’re going to start with that one? Yup!)

The interplay between God-us-reality is an ever turning loop, or spiral. 

  • Reality/God is not separate, or “out there.” If Reality is the natural world around us supported by undeniable facts, it is our source, sustenance, and end. Our participation in this reality in a life-giving, pro-future way matters.

  • Reality/God is in the star and in the stardust, and the stardust is in us. The gifts of death are the atoms of stardust in our bodies.

  • Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, does not go away. 

Big Idea #2: What does it mean to be Pro-Future?

“We are nature becoming aware of itself...The earth was once molten rock, and now it sings opera.” -Brian Thomas Swimme

  • I kept thinking of a video of starlings taking flight in Rome I recently saw. They fly in intricately coordinated, swooping patterns called a murmuration. Did you know that each starling takes on the care of 7 starlings to its left and 7 starlings to its right? In this way, all starlings in a flock are accounted for and all are engaged in a mutually protective dance. I related this to Dowd talking about 7 generations forward and back. We look to our ancestors and ask for wisdom and guidance. We live in the now with a mind toward our descendants, in wonderment of what they’d like us to give. I loved his analogy of the Trinity as the interconnection of the Past, Present, and Future. The entire past is present here as is the entire future. It is here. Now. It is not Other than this. 

  • We don’t end and we don’t begin. We evolve. The stuff we are made of is the same stuff of the first star, of the dinosaurs, of Jesus. We breathe the molecules of their air. That same stuff will become part of other matter - soil, plants, stars in a distant galaxy, and even more up close: our children and our children’s children.

  • How we live is a mirror of how we treat ourselves, others, and all that we view as sacred. To understand this truth in a deep way leads us to live on behalf of LIFE. 

Big Idea #3: What do we do? (My own musings included...)

We sing. 

We sing at the top of our lungs or in a still small voice about the large and small realities we are part of. From the microbiome of our own being to the vastness of the cosmos we offer up our songs. 

We do one small thing on behalf of life starting today. Starting right now. Maybe you’ve never recycled. Time to start. Or maybe you watch a monarch caterpillar munching away at milkweed. You can hear it if you get close enough. Or maybe you consider your investments and whether any of them could have a deeper impact on the environment or economic equity. The little things add up. The little things become easy and they amount to more little things and suddenly you are living a transformed life.

Suddenly you are living on a transformed planet. 

I do believe this is possible. We haven’t hit the tipping point...not yet. We reside in the in between. We have choices to make and songs to sing and great great great grandchildren to consider. What is it, small ones, you would have us do to hand you a life that is full?




Parts of a Whole | by Holly Hudley

Bach is in my living room. Really. He is. The notes of his Cello Suite No. 4 float off the record and dissipate into my space. He wrote the suites around 1720. Pablo Casals recorded this version in 1936. In 2018 they are both here with me. Sometimes I turn the records up really loud, lay on the floor, close my eyes, and listen. 

Dust glints in the light offered through the window, elegant in its slow drift. What particles of life, ancient and new, come with it? I am trying to remember Bill’s exact words to me in a recent conversation: “Everything is happening everywhere all the time.” We are stardust, we are dinosaur bones, we are Bach’s cello suites, we are our past, current, and future selves. We are  everywhere, all the time. 

I wonder what would be possible between us if we thought of ourselves like grains of sand - each distinct but part of a greater body. A single grain makes no noticeable difference, but together they make a beach, an ocean floor, rocks, minerals, and mountains. If grains of sand could talk they would look at each other and say to the ten grains of sand on either side of them, “I can’t make this beach without you.” That little murmur would spread in all directions from Mexico to Texas to the tip of the Florida Peninsula. On and on it would go. The sand does not know whether it is Mexican or Floridian. What could we learn from them, where each one matters as much as the whole?

It would be a small miracle if we really got that, if we realized we are distinct but not separate. It is true in the universe of our body. Each part, from the skin cells to the organs to the blood and oxygen flow, must work uniquely as well as in tandem to keep us alive. If we are small holograms of the universe itself, this must also be true on a cosmic level. Consider for a minute the possibility that folks like “the Buddha and Jesus, while separated by language, geography, and five centuries, are nevertheless deeply connected in the spiritual world, and devoted collaboratively to the evolution of humanity” (from Robert McDermott’s book Steiner and Kindred Spirits). Again I wonder, if we saw ourselves as part of everything everywhere all the time, what could we do? We just might change the world. 

  from Molly Gochman’s Red Sands installation at IAH:    www.mollygochman.com

from Molly Gochman’s Red Sands installation at IAH: www.mollygochman.com

Lean Forward | by Holly Hudley

On a monthly basis I participate in a conversation with projectCURATE striving to build toward racial justice. It is a Leader-full organization with some of the most brilliant and passionate minds I’ve been around. To learn more, I encourage you to visit the website here and consider joining us. 

Anyhow, this semester we are reading Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown. It is, for all intents and purposes, a work of autocosmology. She explores the ways in which parts work together to create a unified whole, both in nature and in community. She borrows the mathematical concept of fractals, defined as “a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation.” 

Fractals, then, are everywhere. Think of the fern, a dandelion, a succulent, a cauliflower, a snail shell. . .It’s got me wondering: Are human beings a kind of fractal? We are geometrically and biologically similar, from the smallest to the largest one of us. We are individual forms -  my sense of “I” is separate from “you” - but I could not exist without you. We are separate, but we are also one. The word fractal originates from the Latin: frangere, meaning “to break, to crush.” Fractal means broken. 

I think of the concept of Tikkun Olam, in which it is said we were once all part of a single ball of light. That light exploded, breaking into trillions of tiny pieces, individual and separate in their new nature. In that fractured existence, the only way back to unity is through healing the heart of the world. So it is true for us: the only way back to our wholeness is through first recognizing we are broken apart, and then doing the work to heal those broken spaces. Fractals make beautiful patterns when they are pieced back together. If we are like dandelions, blown apart in the form of a wish, then each seed drifts in the wind, and eventually roots and grows into a new dandelion, a new potential wish. Each part has the capacity to grow an entirely new whole. Though I am not finished with the book, my so far sense is that we are being lead to ask ourselves what is our unique part in creating a whole world in which we wish to live? 

I closed my eyes last Saturday at CURATE and listened to Maya Angelou’s recorded voice read part of her poem “On the Pulse of Morning.” These words floated out to me:

The horizon leans forward

(un)wedded to fear.

lean forward.

Take it into the palms of your hands.

Lean.

Forward.

Mold

Sculpt

Lift

Pulse

Lean.

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