Go Forth and Subdue the Earth. Surely We Have Misunderstood?
A year ago I began to explore the edge – my edge. Springing from an insatiable curiosity I yearned to see beyond the rim? Where is my edge – of stamina, of daring, of soul? And once there, what will I find?
A solo trip cross-country with an inflatable kayak bundled in the trunk led me through small towns, along highways saturated with trucks, and to the rivers and lakes of Tennessee. My kayak (I named her Saffron) allowed me to paddle along the wild shores of the Harpeth River and the rocks of a Kentucky Lake bay. There, I saw fish spurt from the water chasing bugs or each other and turtles basking on logs dipping into the water if I paddled too close. I wondered about other fauna of the area. And my avian friends. Where were they?
I drove on to my childhood home in northern Indiana. There I revisited the depths of feeling I have for my stepmother – a woman with whom I have shared many years of my life. During our conversations I explored the person I have become. My own mother died many years ago leaving me empty and lost. (A topic for another time.) I cherish the blessing of my second mother, so like the first, akin to a best friend.
Cornfields, meadows, and waterways lacing the bits of backcountry still remaining of my rural home took me to places of beginnings, endings, enduring friendships, and memories of growing up. Of becoming, mixed with the anguish of loss.
Embraced in the warm hugs of my children and grandchildren in Chicago, it was hard to say goodbye. But I was compelled to find the edge, and heedless of the relentless hollow of pain in my gut, I boarded the plane that would take me to the island of Kalymnos in Greece.
The flight carried me to Athens, by way of a lengthy layover in Stockholm, Sweden. Because of the delay I was able to visit Sigtuna and finally see for myself the waterway of which I’d written, where Thorynn began and ended his journey in my novel Dance of the Hummingbirds. As I walked the shores of Lake Malaren, the feeling of connectedness was profound – rune stones, an ancient church, iconic red houses – all part of the homeland Thorynn returned to.
After three months of exploring the tiny island of Kalymnos and discovering once again the treasures of the Mediterranean I returned home to Tucson. The heat had long since carried itself back to the sun, but my travel to the edge raised an awareness that burned inside me.
What I found at the Edge
This edge was no longer personal. It reached far beyond my paltry self to a precipice. I had peered over the rim and witnessed disturbing devastation. Devastation created by humans.
I began to realize with every step of my journey I was not alone at all. Accompanying me everywhere was the debris of human activity – on planes, along waterways, on ferries, along shorelines, walking from my apartment to the market, hiking from one part of the island to another – human debris followed along and the native fauna did not.
I have often been haunted by a verse in Genesis.
And God said, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over every living thing that is creeping upon the earth. - Genesis 1:28
Subdue: to overcome by superior force. Surely God didn’t intend for us to conquer and destroy Gaia, whom he created with such a noble spirit, the very host of our existence? But, we have. We are.
Western society looks to the Bible when it comes up against a wall, and interprets the Word to fit the desires of the moment. We desire pleasure. We desire convenience. We desire to see nothing which reminds us of our mortality. Everything has become disposable and then swept away, out of sight. Swept into the oceans where we can no longer see it. Let the fish of the sea suffocate in our waste. Didn’t God say it should all be subdued?
I peered over the edge, and saw the end of a healthy world -- plastic and death floating in our waters, burning pits of trash poisoning our air, erosion, flooding and more burning, drowned and charred remains of flora and fauna littering dry riverbeds.
Is there hope? Can we step away from the edge and reverse the surge toward our own destruction? Not if we stay in the center and cover our eyes. If we never venture toward the edge, we won’t know what lies beyond the precipice until it’s too late.
Will you Join Me?
My goal is to build awareness of our self-induced devastation and find solutions? Will you help reclaim the health and beauty we once exclaimed?
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