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The Wholeness of Nature

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It seems to me that just about every moment in my life of an "Aha!" nature --the germs of those of my writings that have felt most energized and meaningful-- has been one of seeing a Whole where before I'd seen only pieces.

That seems true of the moment that gave rise to my piece, "The Forest is Coming" (published at http://www.nonesoblind.org/blog/?p=186">www.nonesoblind.org/blog/?p=186, and years before in the Baltimore Sun).

The piece was inspired by a moment of "Wow," which occurred when I saw, as spring was coming across the valley below my house on a ridge in Virginia, that something had changed during my years there. I saw, upon the mountain across from our ridge, and growing up from the land surrounding our place, that the forest --which human activity had assaulted over the past couple of centuries-- was making a comeback.

"The forest is coming!" That's what I said to myself after that initial "Wow!"

In that moment, I saw
"what it is that the earth is up to."

The earth here wants to create a great forest, and laid out before me was the evidence of how substantially the earth has progressed in this vital endeavor.

It was not just the trees I saw, as the saying would have it, but beyond that the FOREST:

In the flush of the spring, I could see --I could feel-- the forest growing toward us, rising around us. What a beautiful and mighty living thing I saw, reclaiming its domain.

It was that "beautiful and mighty living thing" that blew me away, that created the "Wow!." "Thing"-- singular.

It's hard for me to capture in words such a grasp of that unity --the forest-- of which the trees were the expression. Even harder to capture that sense of a Whole of which the forest itself was a component-- --and indeed, in the piece I did not attempt it, except in that glancing locution about how "The earth here wants to create a great forest..."

"The earth wants"-- implies a good deal about a larger wholeness in nature. It's an idea of wholeness that some have developed in an intriguing and, in my view, in important ways valid concept called "The Gaia Hypothesis." Originating with James Lovelock,

The Gaia hypothesis [it says in the wikipedia article] is an ecological hypothesis that proposes that living and nonliving parts of the earth are viewed as a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. Named after the Greek earth goddess, this hypothesis postulates that all living things have a regulatory effect on the Earth's environment that promotes life overall.

Whether or not one takes the ecological insight into the interconnectedness among living creatures on earth to that far point, the science of ecology has provided many glimpses of the inter-dependencies and harmonies that obtain among the components of what is called "the biosphere."

This may be one of the most important aspects of Wholeness for us human beings, at this point in history, to perceive and to connect with, intellectually and emotionally and spiritually.

I invite you to contribute any images of such interconnectedness in natural systems, and any other thoughts you may have about this aspect of "seeing things Whole."
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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