As humans, we usually think that we are separate from each other, from the earth, and from the sacred, entitled to use them all for our own ends. We don’t even notice the loneliness and fear this causes. Attempting to protect ourselves from each other and from the forces of nature, we create technologies, economies, and governments, and find ourselves living with wars, pollution, and climate change. Because of this fundamental misunderstanding, we have seriously damaged the ecological communities on which our own lives depend. Many of our children already know they will pay the price.
Yet the earth is not our enemy. Ancient humans lived well as part of the planet, much longer than our 6-10,000 years as its supposed masters. It is time to turn back, with eyes wide open, to rejoin the family of life.
The Compassionate Earth Walk is an invitation to return to our natural place in the community of life.
Our commitment is to walk away from the “civilized” habit of dominating the earth, and walk toward home.
Civilized humans occupy the earth like a conquering army. We have mined its soils and minerals and depleted its forests, oceans and rivers, animals, other human communities, and our own health. Pursuing wealth, we have carried on a scorched-earth policy, laying waste to vast areas of land, water, and air – but against what enemies? Ourselves and our children, apparently, with plants and animals as collateral damage. The Occupy movement has pointed out that our civilization exploits people, yet most of us still accept civilization’s basic premise that nature is here for us to exploit.
Those millennia of exploitation have withdrawn energy from the earth, as surely as a friend who turns from love to abuse depletes your energy.
We now turn in the other direction, returning energy to the earth through conscious, loving, and grateful attention. In each encounter along the way, we seek to open our hearts, to listen, learn, love. We invite others to join us in this walk home – walk with us, volunteer support, donate, create a sister walk in another place.
Our route follows an endangered pathway: the proposed Keystone Pipeline new construction. If built it will take tar sands oil through pristine wilderness, farms, and homes, in pipes of dubious integrity, risking contamination of the Midwest’s major water supply, the Ogalalla aquifer. Human needs could be better served without the destruction – but profit would not be served, and the “American way of life” would have to change.
During the walk our shared life will include daily meditation and simple ceremony. The core ceremony is a meditation of walking with awareness; this includes engaging in dialogue with people along the way, performing acts of service, and wholehearted participation in the processes of living together as spiritual community. We travel in traditional pilgrimage style, asking food and shelter as we go, accepting what is offered, and freely offering what we can.
Our walking is a 5-month ceremony, a 1600-mile prayer for the earth and for all humanity:
May we remember who we are.
May we find the courage and faith to release our fearful grasp on power, stop the violence, and join all beings as our own family.
May we start the long walk home, together.
May all beings be happy. May they be joyous and live in safety. All living beings, whether weak or strong, in high or middle or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far, born or to be born, may all beings be happy. (Metta Sutta – Buddhism)