Sunrise over the fog-bank
“In like fashion, Suhrawardi’s cosmology envisions a universe that is intensely alive and inherently sacred. All existence is the effusion, in pulsing waves, of the Holy of Holies, the Light of Lights. Transpiring in every clod, puddle, flaming wick, and fluttering breeze is an angelic presence, a sentient and radiant delegate of the cosmic order.”
~Pir Zia Inayat-Khan[i]
“I believe that earth, sky, human beings and other beings, everything that lives and grows in its own time according to its own nature, is pulsing with a green life force that is sacred, that is eternal, that is God.” ~ Mark I. Wallace[ii]
“We do the breathing, and we are the Breath. All of us. Not only do the trees breathe in what we breathe out, and we breathe in what the trees breath out, but so do all the species, all the peoples.”
~ Arthur Waskow[iii]
“We are not separate; we’re just a different flower.”
~ Tiokasin Ghosthorse[iv]
“It is worth considering that despite being smaller than one millionth of a meter long, microbes compromise fully 60 percent of the mass of life on the planet.”
~Brad Spellberg, Rising Plague[v]
[Once] the germ theory of contagion finally caught on, it did so with a vengeance. Different types of bacteria were implicated in anthrax, gonorrhea, typhoid, and leprosy. Microbes, once amusing little anomalies, became demonized. … [They] became a virulent “other” to be destroyed.”
~ Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, What Is Life[vi]
“Our epitaph [as a species] may well read: “They died of a peculiar strain of reductionism, complicated by a sudden attack of elitism, even though there were ready natural cures close at hand.”
~ Gary Paul Nabhan, Cultures of Habitat[vii]
Rogue Bluffs Radiance
How does one begin…when concentration comes in fleeting spurts. Or re-begin…when life is interrupted, no, not interrupted just changed. How does one begin to tell a story that is so primal, so natural, so obvious that it seems like nonsense to share.
It started with a complaint. “Mom, you keep forgetting things.” “No, I don’t, you didn’t tell me.” “She’s right, you do keep forgetting things, you need to slow down, you have too much on your plate.” “I’m good, no worries…” And then one morning I opened an email and I couldn’t read it, well I could, kind of, in spurts, repeating each sentence over and over in an attempt to make sense of the words that I knew individually yet made no sense strung together. What the hell.
The quotations above – they are my guide in this story. You may think – why so many, why can’t she just chose one maybe two…but I can’t for to do so would be to remove a tack that holds my memory together and the story would fall apart, into a vat of empty words that vie for attention in the mass of interconnected tissue that defines and identifies me, us, as separate.
Which I am not. Which we are not. Which is/was the problem to begin with.
I could add other quotes – a thousand others – but I would become exhausted and never finish this post and you would become bored and never finish this post.
I was lucky. The headache came on over the weekend. Not prone to headaches this made me slightly concerned. Of the times I have had headaches they were mostly due to financial or work stress. I’m not saying I wasn’t stressed in these areas, I was, am, will be, … but this headache was different. It was a searing pain stretching around my entire head just behind my ears and eyes. The prefrontal cortex, the part of my brain that makes the most trouble for me, especially in the ordination process, too mystical, too creative…the part of my brain that took years to trust. The pain was accompanied by an annoying stiffness in the back of my neck that made driving in reverse incredibly uncomfortable. How often do we drive in reverse finding ourselves stuck-in-the-past unable to turn and see…? Too often it seems, especially when you have a stiff neck. While I am at it; my back ached and I was exhausted. I thought about going to the doctors, but my husband was out of town. My intuition that voice inside to which we often exclaim “shove off” told me that I needed to pay attention – All was not well.
I was lucky. The two bites on my lower leg itched like crazy. I was scratching them in my sleep and dowsing them with Doktahdz Bom the day I noticed yet another bite, this one with the perpetrator attached. I grabbed the sucker with a disgusted pull stopped his feeding frenzy. In disbelief I stared at the visual affecting of the spirochetes. It is interesting to note that tick’s saliva “Inactivates one of our most potent innate immunities to disease – the alternative complement system. … Lyme spirochetes take advantage of the alternative complement-inhibiting factors in tick saliva to seek out unprotected sites in the host body where they can then take root and grow.”[viii] They are expert synergists.
Utilizing synergy to take root and grow.
Moving red blotch – the dreaded bullseye – erythema migrans – spreading in ever-widening circles around the imprint of the now missing – stuck on tape incase the doctor wants to see it (why?) – feeding body. The speed with which the spirochetes moved through my tissues was grossly fascinating. The doctor took one look, ordered a blood test, pronounced the fact that this particular little dude was not the cause of the Lyme and sent me home with 200 mg of Doxycycline twice a day for a month. Apparently, I already had Lyme.
Hooray, Borrelia burgdorferi, and B. garinii had presented themselves hungry for life and I was the center of their universe.
Dumbstruck, dismayed, and overwhelmed I stumbled home to deal with both the prognosis and the protocol; the trauma and the grief.
I was lucky. That is what most people told me. Lucky, because I caught it early…
Lucky? I felt anything but lucky. It took me two days to begin the anti biotic.
Anti = against, biotic = life. Me; anti life? Hypocrite. Weekly, I stand up and say yes to life and no to things that are death dealing. I implore others to embrace a Life-centered mutually reciprocating relationship with all of creation. I beg folks to love God, love self and love the other. We are to love the other as ourselves. We are asked to be extraordinary Christians who have a profound relationship with God, paying attention, showing justice and mercy and growing in love in ever widening circles.
Ever widening circles…erythema migrans.
This lovely infection was presenting itself as quite a challenge….
I knew what the spirochetes and the antibiotics were going to do and it grieved me.
I was entering a war – not of my choosing – or so I insisted.
The doxycycline would kill all the bacteria in my body – good or bad – collateral damage.
God breathed life into everything and God said it was good
Bacteria are one of the three branches of the Tree of Life. “These tiny cells appear omnipresent”[ix] They make up 60% of the mass of our planet. They are our life support here on earth. Some live independently, others have symbiotic relationships. We just can’t exist without them.
Interestingly, the mass of the universe is 4% atomic/visible matter, 23% dark matter, and 73% Dark energy. Dark matter is considered omnipresent and knows how the visible matter is distributed. We would not be here without the fluid energy that holds us together.
Our inner and outer world is a reflection of our omnipresent creator.
In my grief, I repeated to whoever would listen the minutia of my experience with Lyme. Where we live, Lyme disease is rampant. Almost everyone I know has had it or is currently battling it. It has devastated lives. That I felt the need to express my experience as unique was revealing. Every case of Lyme is unique, that is the nature of the disease. However, my need to repeat over and over my story and the reasons I struggled with taking the antibiotics over and against others stories and experiences revealed a deep elitism.
Detail of The Temptation and Fall of Eve
Taking a bite of the apple I walked out of the garden.
This war is a primal war; a war that began thousands of years ago when we began to see ourselves separate from everything else. When we first felt that our survival was more important than anything else. It is natural; it is the way it is. Imago Dei.
Developed to keep us alive, synthetic antibiotics have a long lifespan. Only high heat and ultraviolet light can diminish them. 60 million pounds of synthetic antibiotics are used in the United States – per year – half on food animals.[x] For 65 years researchers have been warning us about the overuse of that which is against life. Researchers and Doctors have become increasingly concerned by the ways that gram negative bacteria are developing resistance.[xi] Researchers have warned that while some bacteria has become resistant other bacteria has become extinct… The good and the bad….
And then there is the environmental impact. Unprecedented amounts of synthetic antibiotics are finding their way into the soil, the rivers, the oceans. What happens along the way, what impacts are felt and by whom? Beached whales, sickened dolphins, depleted fish stocks, and increasing dead zones come to mind. Has anyone queried the contribution of the millions of pounds of against life to the demise of our biodiversity? As some bacteria evolve and others become extinct what evolutionary changes is Life undergoing? What is happening to the Tree of Life?
Bill Mckibben is profoundly correct, “We’re changing the most basic dynamics of the only world we’ve ever known.”[xii] “We’re running Genesis backward, decreating.”[xiii]
The Creation of the World and Expulsion from Paradise
Having eaten from the tree of knowledge we now know good and evil. We know that eating from the tree of life will make us live forever. We know that we could use the tree of life in ways it was never intended….
We return to the story, again and again, trying our best to live with the mystery. There is never one way to read the Living Words. Seeing ourselves different, set aside, unique, special, this is the apple we chose to eat. We chose to walk out of our participation in the flourishing of the garden. And God did not give up on us and invited us to care for the garden. Even then we struggled and God did not give up but walked with us showing us how to live in the garden. It is so simple, really. “Come follow me. Cast out your arrogance, turn aside your separateness. Live within God’s world, repair what is broken, and accept our place within this teaming, pulsing, and wondrous world.” These are urgent words.
Indian Ghost Pipes
A wise friend once told me that when we are sick the creatures of this world know it and they come to our rescue. “Look for the plants that suddenly spring up in your yard, or present themselves as beauty on your walks in the woods.”[xiv] The creatures have not forgotten the call to mend the world.
The pulsing greening life force keeps creating new beginnings to our endings.
After two weeks of antibiotics my ability to read and understand returned. After a month I could feel myself returning to something similar to my old self… a humbler self. The spirochetes that see me as their universe have diminished but they have not gone away, they never will, they are meant to live. It is a mystery to me why but that is not my business. My descendents ate the apple…they became separate from God, I too have eaten the apple and now I am free to let God be God. It is a blessing and a curse. Eating of the tree of knowledge, is to know tôb and ra‘. To “know” is to realize or experience. To realize tôb is to experience “beauty, delightfulness, and harmony”[xv]. To experience ra‘ is to realize “ugliness, suffering, and disharmony”.[xvi] To eat the fruit is to experience the parts in order to realize the whole. It is understanding the center. It is neti-neti,the absenceof duality, a net of cosmic corelations.
So let us cast the net…
… we are all hungry for life
if God says it is good, then so be it.
I no longer see my life with Lyme as a battle or a war. Rather it is a call to pay attention and repair my broken immune system.
A call to pay attention, show justice, mercy, and loving kindness, and repair the Earth’s broken immune system.
Come Follow Me
[ii] Mark I Wallace, Finding God in the Singing River: Christianity, Spirit, Nature (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2005),ix.
[iii] Arthur Waskow, And the Earth is Filled with the Breath of Life, (Cross Currents, Fall 1997), 363. Accessed thru ATLAS
[iv] Workshop speaker at GPIW’s “Becoming a Sacred Earth Community, June 21, 2013
[v] As quoted in; Stephen Harrod Buhner. Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternative for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria, (North Adams, Storey Publishing, 2012), 5.
[viii] Stephen Harrod Buhner. Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternative for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria, (North Adams, Storey Publishing, 2012), 26.
[ix] Trudy M. Wassenaar, Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 1.
[xi] Brad Spellberg. Preserving the Power and Lifespan of Antibiotics. Medscape. Nov 02, 2011.
[xii] Bill Mckibben, Eaarth. (New York: Time Books, 2010), 23.
[xv] Walter Vogel. “Like One of Us, Knowing Tôb and Ra‘ (Gen 3:22).” (Semeia no. 81, 1998),149.
Sunrise Over the Fog-bank, Ninabeth Metcalf
Rogue Bluffs Radiance, Ken Metcalf
Spirochetes, Google Image Bank
Placque with the Creation of the Animals, ca 1084, Amalfi, The Metropolitan Museum Collection. accessed through ArtStor.
Prokaryotes Tree, Google image bank.
The Temptation and Fall of Eve, William Blake. 1808. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Accessed through ArtStor.
The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise. Giovanni di Paolo. 1445. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. accessed through ArtStor.
Indian Ghost Pipes, Nnabeth Metcalf
Come Follow Me, Ninabeth Metcalf