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May 11, 2003

A Real Mother

I know I said no symbols, but I owe you one: a branch of May to honor the old Tradition. We can't really do without symbols, most notably language, but I’m not speaking symbolically, or even metaphorically, when I say that the Earth is our Mother.
It's the literal truth.

Where else do we come from?
The ancient bedrock that underlies the Park is not so old as Life itself, which seems to have emerged fairly soon after the creation of the Earth, at least as far as geologic time measures such things. How inanimate matter came to embody Life is hard to know. Some say it happened spontaneously; some say it’s supernatural; some say it came from outer space. We don’t really know, but we do know that Life was nurtured here, as in a womb. Paternity may be questioned, but Motherhood cannot be hid. Wherefore the male principle ascends to some symbolic heaven, while our Mother remains as real as rock, as true as rushing water. Feeding roots, unfolding leaves, she raises trees towards that guessed-at heaven. Not to reach her mate, but to provide a place for mother birds to make their nests.

A Mother cares for her children.
We may think we’ve grown up, that we can take care of ourselves, but we only subsist upon her assets. We drink her streams, we burn her woods, we mine her lodes of metal. If we foul her body in the process, she seems boundless in her capacity for healing.
Even so, we sense that she has limits.

If we render our planet uninhabitable, through poisonous war, or merely by our rapacious consumption, we may (conceivably) escape by leaving the Earth behind, departing into space like children leaving home, waving good-bye to Mother. Children have a way of breaking a mother’s heart, but we will not call it matricide. We’re just behaving in the way that Life does, exploiting our resources insofar as we can. Let’s not delude ourselves: Mother Earth is just a metaphor, after all.

Just a metaphor.
But we have no better way to speak. And even what we call the Truth is no more than an accepted symbol of the Mystery. The long mythology that runs from the navel of the primitive mind to the postmodern psychology of a post-secular world continues to enshrine Mother as a primary face of the Goddess. If we recognize the same face in the very context of our being we are not deluded; we are witnessing the convergence of the actual and the symbolic. Our gift of conscience compels us to treat them with the same regard. The capacity to make the connection is what we call “Love”.
By taking this day to Love Her, we convene the Truth: in a world of artifice, illusion and deception, Mother is real.