For some years now, renowned marine biologist and oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle has been promoting the idea of “hope spots” in the world’s oceans.
A hope spot is a relatively intact area in the ocean that has been scientifically identified as critical to overall ocean health. Once a hope spot is recognized, it is championed by local conservationists, with logistical and scientific assistance from Mission Blue, Sylvia’s organization. The overall idea is that if we can work to support the resilience and diversity of places in the ocean where things are still working well, this resilience can gradually expand into less healthy areas, promoting ever-widening ocean recovery and regeneration.
I’m totally enamored of this idea. I love the approach of supporting what’s working well. I believe that this model applies in most areas of life, both material and spiritual. And I’m also struck by the principle that once a hope spot is identified, its continuance depends on local people “championing” it.
Hope spots—in the ocean or on the land, in your garden or in the wildest places—can be conceived as rich, buoyant nodes in Gaia’s web, which can hold and support the weaving of a stronger, more diverse and expansive web of life. The essential aspect of the “hope spot” concept is that it relies first on the balance and diversity still existing in Nature, and only then brings in human-level knowledge—and also human championing, which is just as important.
And if we think about wild places on earth as composed not only of physical beings but also spiritual beings, the hope spot idea becomes even more potent.
Belief in the total reality of Gaia brings with it the awareness that there are dimensions of presence here on Earth that go beyond the merely physical. Every forest, every river, every meadow—even every roadside and vacant lot—is home to spiritual beings of all kinds. Throughout history these beings have been called faeries, devas, little people, old ones, and many, many other names from indigenous cultures worldwide. Whatever their names, they live in dynamic relationship with the physical beings of Nature, harmonizing and anchoring the processes of growth and evolution. Our ancestors knew these immaterial beings well, and living in mutuality with them was an everyday priority. You could say our ancestors championed the sacredness of the land where they lived, by acknowledging and honoring the web of physical and spiritual beings who lived there.
How can we become champions of a modest hope spot in our neighborhood? Everyone, whether living in the city or the country, probably has a particular expression of the wild world that they’re drawn to, whether it’s a tree in the garden or local park, or a forest meadow or rugged cliffside. Even a tiny fragment of Gaia’s Green World holds the quality of wildness, and can thus become a hope spot. And this green wildness is enhanced immeasurably when we pay attention to its spiritual dimensions.
Like anything else, connecting with the spiritual beings who live in a certain place takes practice. But if we patiently use our heart and all of our inner and outer senses, and present ourselves as someone who humbly wants to connect and attune, we will begin to realize that they are there. Then we can respectfully acknowledge their presence, greeting them whenever we pass by. We can leave offerings such as a pinch of cornmeal or, in desert climates, a sprinkle of water. Doing this begins to create a 2-way exchange of energies.
We could do open-hearted walking meditations within our hope spot. And of course we would want to visit in every season and every kind of weather. The essence of this entire process is to get into relationship with the spiritual energies of the place, and nourish them with our attention and regard. Sooner or later, some kind of communication will emerge, which will lead to ever-deepening levels of mutuality and communion.
For our indigenous ancestors, who regularly performed complex and beautiful ceremonies to honor and attune with the land, these would probably seem like baby steps. But even taking modest actions like these can “wake up” a place in all its spiritual and physical dimensions. Once a place wakes up, we can begin to receive more information from its material-spiritual community of beings, about what to do next in order to co-create with our hope spot—remembering that we are fostering a place of resilience and regeneration on all levels. (And this process is also good for us, as humans, when we deliberately set out to be in relationship rather than to dominate and think we know everything.)
The importance of grounding Hope, anywhere on Earth, can’t be overstated. So I encourage everyone to experiment with this practice. And, as always, I’d love to get an email describing your results.