A week ago Sunday, I drove a ways up into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near my house. I stopped by a normally rushing mountain stream, now down to a tiny trickle, and hiked up from the dusty jeep road into the parched forest. I could feel how the land up here is so thirsty, so dry, prostrate from relentless heat and no rain. I sat on a rock for a while, and here is what the land communicated to me:
Yes, the land here and now is thirsty. But every human is thirsty, always. Even the humans in places where they are getting flooded, getting drowned, their houses and cars swept away, even they’re thirsty. Everyone is thirsty for they don’t know what. It’s the connection with Gaia that they thirst for. It’s to know themselves as part of, as lush and full and connected, not arid, removed and separate. This is the worst thirst, and it can’t be quenched any other way than to leave your allegiance to the human-centered world and come back to Gaia.
Gaia is always ready, she’s always waiting. She’s always offering, her arms are always open for you to return to her, always, always. The only way to quench your true thirst, to feed your real hunger, to soothe your terrible pain and alienation, the only way back is to come into Gaia’s open arms. Back into knowing yourselves as of the land and waters, as one with the plants and creatures. Only in this way will you stop hurting and killing yourselves, and the whole planet and everything on it.
You, now, sit here in this dry forest yearning for rain, and yet the yearning of one person, or of a thousand, cannot make up for 500 years of continuous exploitation and abuse of this land. Of course you’d love for the drought in the Southwest to break, to go back to having the snowy winters and rainy summers of your childhood, for this high desert land to be green and moist and abundant. But there’s not much of a chance that it’s going to happen just because of your own or anyone else’s yearning or prayers. The story of the Earth right now is so big and complicated, it’s really hard for humans to know what to do. Praying might be one way—but there are other ways.
Prepare for change. That’s a way. Prepare for change. Study what changes are coming to the place where you live. Listen, and make yourself ready. Make your friends ready. Join with the spiritual beings of the land, and the physical land itself, to get ready for where we’re all going together. Don’t try to futilely call back where we’ve been. Maybe you can help reset the course a little, to go in a better direction—but don’t reflexively resist change, even if it seems tragic to you.
Gaia doesn’t waste any time regretting that these mountains don’t get as much rain as they used to, or that in other places there is way too much rain. Everything is out of balance everywhere, but Gaia doesn’t spend a moment wishing it were different. She simply goes on affirming life, over and over, in infinite ways. She affirms her Green World, in its irresistible power and presence, saying: Make way, make way for life.
And don’t give up. Life doesn’t give up. The Green World doesn’t give up. This shriveling, thirsty mountain mahogany bush beside you doesn’t give up. True, it may have to gracefully cede the field, when conditions aren’t conductive to it remaining, but it never gives up, even in its final moments. Humans give up, you have that unique capacity. Life doesn’t give up. When you humans who love the Green World can completely attune with it, and stand for and with it, you won’t ever give up either. Face the truth. Form and tend good alliances. Look for joy. And don’t give up. Don’t give up, because the Sacred Land with all its forces and beings and mysteries never gives up.
The following evening, a fire started in the forest about a mile from this place that had so generously and beautifully instructed me. The fire is still burning and expanding now, as I write this. It’s impossible to tell for sure, but from the fire map, it looks like the place where I received this message has already burned.