HUMILITY MONTH: DAY 5: “Until we understand what the land is, we are at odds with everything we touch. And to come to that understanding it is necessary, even now, to leave the regions of our conquest – the cleared fields, the towns and cities, the highways – and re-enter the woods. For only there can a man encounter the silence and the darkness of his own absence. Only in this silence and darkness can he recover the sense of the world’s longevity, of its ability to thrive without him, of his inferiority to it and his dependence on it. Perhaps then, having heard that silence and seen that darkness, he will grow humble before the place and begin to take it in – to learn from it what it is. As its sounds come into his hearing, and its lights and colors come into his vision, and its odors come into his nostrils, then he may come into its presence as he never has before, and he will arrive in his place and will want to remain. His life will grow out of the ground like the other lives of the place, and take its place among them. He will be with them – neither ignorant of them, nor indifferent to them, nor against them – and so at last he will grow to be native-born. That is, he must reenter the silence and the darkness, and be born again.― Wendell Berry
In my mind, the supreme arrogance of man is his belief that he is here to conquer anything. Mr. Berry has long been a hero of mine. Like Thoreau, his writing inspires in me a sense of awe and humility. I read yesterday about the redwoods destroyed last year in the fires. It hurts my heart to know that 10% of that population was wiped out.
I am more in love with Nature than I am people. While I honor life of all kinds, I do not see that any life is more valuable than any other. Nature humbles me, every time. I have lived through earthquakes that filled me with awe and wonder, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and raging wildfires. They are all scary because I see my insignificance in the face of Nature.
As we have destroyed her, she comes back fiercely. I see that. It feels karmic to me. Not because God is mad or punitive, but because this amazing creation, this Universe, has a sense of balances and checks that we know nothing about and continue to believe we can control and have mastery over. Yeah, not so much.