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The Gulf Oil Spill – A Prayer for Healing

The Gulf of Mexico under siege

As images of oil-soaked wildlife and dead dolphins and birds  from the Gulf oil spill monopolize the media, it is hard to articulate the cascade of emotions that flow into consciousness –  first it is shock and horror, then incredulity that such a disaster could happen in America in the 21st century, then shame at being part of the species who visited this apocalypse on the innocent; then it seems to settle into a deep inexpressible heart sadness that the unimaginable and unspeakably ugly unfolding of this nightmare managed to survive into the light of day and become reality.  There is just no way to get around its presence….and its long-term life-altering effects…for the people who depend on the bounty of the Gulf, for the wildlife who are threatened and for a planet once again under siege.

As a young child, I remember the terrifying experience of my father dying suddenly. I would often go to sleep at night with the distinct impression that I had somehow slipped into some parallel universe and that when I next opened my eyes I would have returned to an upright world where my father was still alive and the other experience was simply a bad dream.  As I found out time and again, that was not the case – reality was reality and no matter how much I wanted it to be different, it never was….eventually I learned to deal with it and although my life was irretrievably altered, the new norm simply became my life.  That is how it seems the death of a pristine ecosystem will affect this nation and we cannot deny it.

My Florida Playground

I found myself in tears this morning as witness to the devastation that was about to slink its slimy way into the backyard of my Florida playground. I no longer live there -at least not in my physical and present incarnation- but I discovered that in my memory I always believed it to be a place that  would never change and would always be there. Even if I never physically returned to the serenity of a walk along Venice Beach, the antics of the manatees at Homosassa Springs, the splendor of the setting sun over St. Pete Beach as I sat with a close friend watching for the ‘green flash’. Even if I never again flew from the west coast  ‘armpit’ to Key West and witnessed with awe the beauty of this part of the world from the air. Even if I never again flew to the Gulf out-islands with the group of women pilots met for our monthly lunches …..I always believed it would all still be there – alive and well to antiquity – never needing my presence to continue….but a place to which I could return at will.

It felt like a cherished connection to my past was being destroyed simultaneously with the demise of the fragile ecosystem – change had visited a part of my past and altered it forever – it wasn’t just a bad dream, it was real and there was nothing I could do about it but be heart-broken. As I sat with the sadness, unable to truly grasp the depth of the emotion that had gripped my soul, I began to see that this was one of the ‘letting go’ moments whose time had come. As hard as it was to fathom, the devastation in its finality seemed to represent a cutting with the past – it was as if the silent images of death and destruction were showing me on a personal level the death of my connection to that life for me.

The responsibility of stewardship

Like the bubble of denial within which we seem to have been living as a nation -ie- believing that such a disaster as just happened never would, that our regulators were taking their responsibilities seriously – I too had mistaken the serene and comforting memories to be an immutable, eternal truth.  As I worked through that realization, it became clear how necessary  it is to fully attend t0 present time, out of the fantasy bubble of what was and become available to live fully and choicefully NOW.  A piece of my soul was left behind in that idyllic world and it has now been retrieved.  Perhaps the possibility exists for us as a nation to do the same.  We have left part of our soul in the mistaken belief bubble of our delusional ‘perfect’ world and this disaster is perhaps the wake-up call  in all areas of our existence.  We can no longer pretend that we are simply experiencing a nightmarish ‘rough patch’ in our history and soon will wake up from this bad dream to find all is restored. That is not and never will be a possibility. We cannot allow ourselves to escape into a phantasmagorical world where all is always well.   The only course of action is to begin anew, altered and with new resolve to live differently – renewable energy, sustainable awareness – into ecological maturity as responsible stewards of this earth upon which we live…time to change.

A prayer for healing in the Gulf

I never realized how much I had available to me in those days of play and enjoyment in Florida…never really appreciated how many times I had the opportunity to imbibe the fruits of the natural world – it was all so easily available that I took it for granted believing it would always be there in the same pristine way I had experienced it —– how wrong I was!  As time is bendable, I choose to overlay my gratitude today on the torn ecology of the Gulf as a solemn prayer for its healing….as with any change – return to stasis is not possible. Perhaps in this case it is a good thing – perhaps this is the first pained step onto a new path toward appreciation for our lives in partnership with nature rather in dominance of it…perhaps in the horrific images and shattered lives to which we are witness today, we will retrieve our truth and heal our souls as we heal this devastation.

A quote from Mohandas K. Gandhi:  “To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”


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