If we listen carefully to the literature and poetry of nature, we will discover, I think, the elements of a theopoetics of the natural world. To be drawn into the spell of this literature is to find oneself beckoned to listen to the language, the idiom of the natural world, to discern how the Word comes to expression through particular places, in the stories, poems, and living communities that take root in those places. It is to be brought to a heightened awareness of what it might mean to live more deeply into the truth of the Word and the living world.A little farther on, he writes:
Are we listening carefully enough? Can we discern this Word, older than the silence, deeper than the water, woven into both?And he ends the chapter:
Can we recover a sense of world so pregnant with Word, a sense of Word so intimately bound up with the very life of the world? Such attentive listening promises a deeper sense of relationship with the places we inhabit. It may also be necessary to the long-term survival of those places.We cannot hope to survive on this planet if we don't come into deep relationship with "places," not places to enjoy or preserve or go to on vacation. That is no conversation. Deep relationship, intimacy, means communication going both ways, it means listening one to the other. And listening does not happen if one side is doing all the talking. We cannot learn what Earth needs now from us if we don't pay deep attention to the "places" where we are, if we are not humble enough to learn from them, to hear their spoken Word in their own languages.
Every relationship changes us or it is not a relationship.We western humans have for thousands of years insisted that the Other with whom we are in relationship change for us - and if it doesn't want to, we simply force the change, carve the world into what we want, what our selfish desires look like to us as we gaze in the mirror and see only our small selves. We have demanded that it shut up and follow our commands.
We see the world that we have made from that one-way conversation - toxified, depleted, in crisis no matter where we look. It has been an abusive relationship indeed, or in deed.
So I try to listen to the Word older than the silence, speaking from Creation itself in all its wild manifestations. I go to the places of connection, where my footsteps meet the water's edge, or when that first tip of sunlight crosses over the horizon, or in how a simple exchange of emails that brought together moon, Earth shadow, dawn, the love between mother and daughter, and my love of words came together and made a poem.
What I know, having read these passages in the early morning today, is that I want my writing to come as close to this as I can make it, to rest a while in those "border zones," in the words of Barry Lopez, "charged with evolutionary potential." There's a whole lot more life going on there in any case, a ferment, a possibility.