by Karen Holmgren, former Administrative Coordinator at JEM
I grew up at a time and in a place where there were woods and a swamp to explore right behind our house. Some of my fondest and most vivid childhood memories are of the times spent looking for snakes, turtles, and salamanders, falling in the pond while trying to catch a frog, picking bouquets of violets for my mother, collecting red and gold leaves for an art project, or just sitting on top of the Big Rock contemplating life. As an adult I retained that basic love for Nature, but it was hardly in my awareness most of the time.
A few years ago I read The Universe Story by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry in which the 13.7 billion year history of our evolving and emerging Universe is told as both a scientific, historical account and as a sacred story. Something in this clicked for me and I began to see the natural world through newly opened eyes, discovering a level of joy and wonder that far exceeded my childhood experience.
All my life I had been seeing various parts of my life as separate views from the windows of a house. Suddenly the roof was blown off and I could see life and the world as an unbroken panorama. I went around in a daze like one newly in love − in love with God this time − as I began to understand the amazing complexity, variety, and interdependence of all living beings on a dynamic planet. How beautiful! How precious! How utterly wonderful it all is! And how precarious is its condition today, how urgently needed is our loving care.
My life now has direction, meaning, and purpose as I work with others at JEM, in my community, and in my church to help heal Earth, our beautiful home.