Category Archives: Environment
Near Ithaca, New York, we noticed a sign to Taughannock Falls.
On the way home, after a fun visit with our aunt, we stopped at the waterfalls. Pronounced Tuh-GA-nick, Taughannock falls carves a 400 foot deep gorge through layers of sandstone, shale and limestone that were once the bed of an ancient sea. With a 215 foot plunge, this waterfall stands three stories taller than Niagara Falls.
A narrow trail around the rim of the abyss was hiked by sturdy visitors so we decided to follow.
We didn’t bring water so when we discovered the hike was much longer than we were aware of, we had to make a decision to return the way we came or continue on around and circumvent the entire abyss. We asked a gentleman who was walking his dog and concluded we could make the entire hike.
From 21st Century Science and Health, “The divine demand, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” is scientific, and the human footsteps leading to perfection are requisite. Individuals are consistent, who, watching and praying, can “run and not grow weary…walk and not be faint,” who gain goodness rapidly and hold their position, or attain slowly and yield not to discouragement. God requires perfection, but not until the battle between Spirit and flesh is fought and the victory won. To stop eating, drinking, or being clothed materially before the spiritual facts of existence are gained step by step, is not legitimate. When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, Spirit directs our thought and action. Imperfect human beings grasp the ultimate of spiritual perfection slowly; but to begin aright and to continue the strife of demonstrating the great problem of being is doing much.”
 Matt. 5:48
 Isa. 40:31
The “boom and bust” phenomenon has conditioned my mind to be wary of getting trapped in the time warp of tradition.
Boom and bust is an obvious manifestation that nothing in this world remains forever. What was once all-important, grand and amazing, can easily fade into oblivion.
Traditions parallel the boom and bust spectacles.
I’m all for tradition, as long as it doesn’t become a trap that confines my common sense or spiritual growth. Staying out of the trap requires mental diligence. For example:
I grew up with my family traditions of never opening presents on Christmas Eve and not attending Christmas Eve church services. Three generations of my family went to bed at a reasonable hour on Christmas Eve and got up to open presents before a Christmas dinner.
When I first got married, I learned about my in-laws family tradition of opening a few special presents between the 8 p.m. and midnight Christmas Eve church services, at which they participated.
Get out…I thought. I tried it a couple of times. I liked the church services but the routine of opening presents late at night verified my instinct that staying up late makes for grumpiness. When we had our first child, I put my foot down and declined to wrap my baby up and drive to a relative’s house to open presents when we should be sleeping.
“But, it’s family tradition,” I was told.
The guilt tactic worked for a couple of days until I rationalized that this “family tradition” has only been occurring for one generation, a young one at that, my husband’s generation.
Thankfully my husband didn’t squawk and we started the new tradition of attending the early Christmas Eve service and going to bed at a reasonable hour without the added excitement of present opening. He did not insist on his current tradition and I did not insist on my old tradition.
Traditions fall away, whether by choice or force. Circumstances force change therefore traditions will reflect change, and we want to choose to change for the better. We want to watch the human mind.
The human mind gets sucked all too easy into the eccentricity of time warps as if the passage of time is suspended and what happened yesterday, or 100 years ago, or a thousand years ago, is today’s reality.
The only way a tradition is kept alive is by revising and reinventing it to fulfill today’s needs. In other words, the way to keep a tradition alive and useful is not to allow it to become a trap.
Our human mindedness needs common sense. The tradition that met a need yesterday won’t meet the need today. This is why repeating yesterday’s inspired words may not heal today, or why the pill that worked yesterday may not work today, or the yoga move today may be miserable tomorrow, or the yoga move miserable today may be perfect for tomorrow.
The human traditions are not priority. Spiritual mindedness is priority.
Our spiritual mindedness needs wiggle room, it needs to be encouraged to flow out and express itself. It can never be limited to time or time periods or traditions.
Divine Spirit inspires our manifestation of life, truth, and love. By design, we express life, truth, and love, not traditions. Our expression may look attached to human traditions, but they are not controlled by those traditions.
It isn’t a point to try and eliminate traditions because no matter what we do it comes across as a tradition. The point is seeing that our spiritual mindedness has never gotten sucked into the trap of time warped traditions. Our spiritual mindedness is alive, colorful, useful, healthy, and beautiful.
We can base our practices and traditions on the spiritual truth that God never repeats the same manifestation, but expresses creativity, practicality, wellbeing, and joy.
The last passenger pigeon died September 1, 1914, a century ago. Her name was Martha and she died alone in a cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Unlike past mass extinctions (think dinosaurs), caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a Passenger Pigeon presentation at the Woodchuck Lodge, the cabin where Activist and Naturalist, John Burroughs, lived from 1910-1920.
We learned Burroughs (1837-1921) grew up when the passenger pigeon was the most abundant bird in North America. As a boy he was spellbound at the spectacle of untold thousands of them descending on his Roxbury, New York farm. He wrote, “The naked beechwoods would suddenly become blue with them, and vocal with their soft childlike calls. The very air times seemed turned to pigeons.”
The passenger pigeons flew in large colonies. LARGE. So large they oftentimes darkened the sky as they soared and circled overhead. The ostensible abundance of pigeons aroused people to freely reveal their baser instincts of gluttonous devastation. From 1800-1900, people slaughtered the pigeons in every way imaginable.
Even people who hated to kill any living thing were sucked into the unfolding extinction of the pigeon, through complacency. Burroughs, probably conscience struck, wrote later, “In the fall of 1876, out hunting for grouse, I saw a solitary cock sitting in a tree. I killed it, little dreaming that, so far as I was concerned, I was killing the last pigeon.”
Burroughs didn’t kill the last passenger pigeon in 1876, but by 1900, there were only a handful left. The last confirmed sight of a pigeon in flight was in Indiana, April 3, 1902. Burroughs, aroused from complacency went on to lobby for what later became the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, protecting all nongame birds today.
I contemplate this whole scenario next to my knowledge of what I read in Science and Health, first written by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century.
The idea of a different kind of extinction comes to thought. From 21st Century Science and Health, “Sputnik and NASA changed the world view when launching into outer space. Setbacks happened, but courage set the precedence. Consequently, outgrown philosophies, based on what physical senses say, have become extinct. The physical law of gravity can’t define us. Space exploration, thought expansion, bravery, and open-mindedness, continues.”
Interestingly, the philosophy: once an animal is extinct it is gone forever—is becoming extinct.
September’s Smithsonian Magazine reported, “A handful of naturalists and molecular biologists believe that we could one day undo what happened by re-engineering the bird’s genome from preserved specimens and a closely related extant species.” The de-extinction proposal is being debated.
I now reflect on this from Science and Health, “We want to carry the day against physical enemies—even to the extinction of all belief in materialism, evil, disease, and death. Pure metaphysics insists on the fact that God is all, therefore, temporal substance is nothing but an image in human mind.
“The Science of being shows it to be impossible for infinite Spirit or Soul to be in a finite body, or for person to have intelligence separate from our Maker. It is a self-evident error to suppose that there can be such a reality as biological animal or vegetable life, when such life always ends in death. Life is never for a moment extinct. Therefore Life is never structural. Life isn’t established through levels of organization, and it is never absorbed or limited by its own formations.”
“Christian Science requires us to improve our intentions. Hatred is to become extinct through kindness. Lust is conquered with purity. Revenge is triumphed over with charity, and deceit is defeated with honesty. Starve errors in their early stages if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success.” Science and Health
On my walk in the woods this morning, I noticed it was 65 degrees in the shade and 82 degrees in the sun. Cool. Warm. Cool. Warm. As I walked in and out of the shade of deciduous trees.
Pinpointing temperature, or anything in this material world, is dubious. We pinpoint, because on some days I’m interested in knowing whether to expect 82 degrees or 2 degrees when I go outside.
The mistake is thinking whatever we pinpoint is truth, an actual fact. This mistake grows into a bigger mess when we argue over things that have been pinpointed.
Science and religion have been pinpointed. But their constant state of motion precludes us from thinking they’ve been pinpointed correctly as if one is better than the other.
Though the law of gravity stands fairly consistent here on earth, we aren’t going to take a 747 airplane to the moon and expect it to work the same. Moon’s gravity is different.
Though love has been identified as God by many minds, we aren’t going to carry this knowledge successfully into another mind that lacks an example of love.
Knowledge takes time. We can pinpoint certain knowledge as we move forward, however, dropping the knowledge, whether temporarily or permanently, comes in handy in our line of progress.
Meditative prayer involves thoughtfulness, introspection, and reflection; usually a lot of sitting around.
Active prayer involves action. Looking, feeding, cleaning, traveling, knocking, etc.
Marrying the two allows us to better experience what Christ Jesus talked about in his Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5-7
Both prayer types must be treated equal.
If meditative prayer dominates the consciousness, harmony and expression shrivel. If active prayer rules the roost, substantial mindfulness wavers and weakens.
In reviewing Christ Jesus Sermon on the Mount, we find concerted effort given to meditative and active prayers.
Jesus began his sermon with what we know as the “Beatitudes,” mini-proverbs packed with blessing and meaning; each deserving of thorough study.
Then he said, “You are the salt of the earth,” coaxing the mind to move.
We are warned to guard against insincere prayers that make us look pious or busy.
Christ Jesus flops back and forth between meditative prayer and active prayer, showing that one or the other doesn’t take precedence. There is no hierarchy in prayer. It is a mistake to assume we must pray meditatively first before active prayer kicks in. They work simultaneously and are invoked by love and truth. They are equal.
Although we are given the Lord’s Prayer to repeat and contemplate, the Sermon on the Mount continues on to overflow with verbs: serve one master, be faithful, be reconciled, look at the birds, see the lilies, keep your pearls from pigs, knock, give fish, watch out for false prophets, put good words into practice, and even, gouge out your eye if it causes you to sin.
I try not to confuse meditative and active prayers, just like I try not to confuse a meditative prayer with repeating words, or an active prayer with going through motions.
The other day, I took a plastic bag on my walk through the woods. I picked up litter, thanking God for all the beauty. I also responded to the idea to drop in on a neighbor. Her husband recently died and she was delighted to have a visitor.
A meditative prayer is quiet time with God, Truth. An active prayer is our Godlikeness in action. We know they are true when they bear blessings seen and felt, not only by our self, but also by others.
Living in an area where the four seasons are sharp and clear, I am reminded not to believe a physical object is everlasting.
Two facts counter the 4 season lesson:
1. Some places don’t ever have a winter.
2. A strong abiding intuition searches for an everlasting presence.
Inquiring into the everlasting, we utilize time, meditation, books, and religion to aid in our discovery of that which is perpetual. But as I look at the weather, I’m reminded not to make time, meditation, books, or religion an everlasting agent. They aren’t. They are only temporal tools.
The 4 seasons reminds me of the higher goal–to become less attached to temporal things and more attached to permanent spiritual truths.
Interestingly, I meet people who aren’t even religious, yet exhibit an enduring life of love and principle, no matter whether they are planting seeds, mowing a prosperous crop of grass, raking fallen leaves, or shoveling snow, they shine with love and truth.