I woke with the lyrics of the hymn playing inside of my head in the voice of Judy Collins, even though I grew up listening to Cat Stevens singing “Morning has Broken.” I have not heard the song in years, but there it was, singing inside a mind that refused to fall back to sleep. In my dream, I had been writing this blog post while the beauty of the song played on repeat.
Before I went to sleep last night, I watched most of the U.S. democratic presidential debates. “Are they still on?” my son asked when he came downstairs in preparation for bed. He had suggested we watch them, and together we had for about an hour.
“Yeah, I told him, but they haven’t even gotten to the environment yet.”
“Maybe it’s not on the agenda topics,” my husband replied.
Instead, the focus was on healthcare and gun control. Two topics I will not deny are essential to individual wellbeing. But, if we don’t tend to the home we all share, we won’t have individual selves to care for. Eventually, the morning light will not break into a new day on Earth.
16-yr. old Greta Thunberg is now famous for telling us, “Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope, but I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
The truth is, most of us are more concerned with our own houses, than the home we share. Neglecting to realize that our individual houses are irrelevant if we don’t take care of the planet. Simply put, our house will burn if we continue to ignore the fact that our collective home is literally on fire. Immense forests, the lungs of our Earth, are burning because of climate change. While the land burns, the waters are rising. In attempt to shake us awake, our home is self-destructing with our help.
I realized as I was waking this morning that the song playing on repeat through my dreams was not a song, literally, of mourning, but a hymn of praise to the new day. It is also, though, a praise for union and the truth that we are “born of one light.” The song is incredibly beautiful, and it is no wonder it has been sung by various artists throughout the years. It may have originated as a Christian hymn, but it has a universal appeal, as Cat Stevens, also known as Yusuf Islam, has shown us.
Although I don’t adhere to a religion, I believe that we are all birthed from the same light. A light that weaves through all life, including this living planet we call home. We have, collectively, over many years, but more so in the more recent past, worked more to break this light than to honor it and nurture it.
Science says we are creatures of habit. It can take an individual two weeks to a year to break an old habit and form a new one. Sadly, we have made a global habit of looking out more for the individual self than our selves as an integral part of the web-of-light/life that we are all a part of.
The other day, I watched a brief clip of Greta being interviewed by a morning show on a major network here in the U.S. She had just traveled to the states via a zero-emissions boat. As her visibly uncomfortable interviewers also pointed out, she has also walked to their studio.
It takes a fair amount of discomfort to welcome in a “new morning” in favor of the one we are used to greeting. It takes a stretching of the eyes and mind a little wider to really see what exists beyond our myopic field of perception. But, the rewards are infinite. Imagine, for a moment, a new morning breaking into day. Imagine your beautiful light weaving into the light around you. Imagine what you can bring to this new day.
Admittedly, most of us will not change all of our habits, and certainly not at once. I know I am not ready to give up travel by plane to sail across the ocean, but there are choices I can make in each moment to dim the light, or to grow it. Here are a few that we can all consider each morning after we wake:
- Skip the K-cups or the Dunkins run and brew a cup of fair trade, organic coffee or tea. (If you really want that Dunkins or Starbucks, bring your own reusable mug.
- Gather a full load of laundry before starting the washer, and use warm (not hot) or cold water to wash. The next time you buy detergent, choose one free of harsh chemicals and dyes in the most environmentally friendly packaging you can find. Just say no to those hard plastic containers! If your washer kicks the bucket and can’t be fixed, buy an energy efficient one. When your load is done, hang it outside in the sunshine and save some money by using free, fossil-free energy! If you must dry it in the dryer, use an eco setting and wool dryer balls in favor of toxic non-reusable dryer sheets.
- Likewise, run your dishwasher only when it is full on the energy-saver setting with eco-friendly detergent in eco-friendly packaging.
- Make the choice to eat low on the food chain, and finish what is on your plate. If you can’t eat it all, save it for another meal. Compost what you must discard. Grow what you can, or buy it locally and organic.
- Water the lawn only if you really need to, and tend to it with organic lawn care. Better yet, grow more plants and trees that don’t require maintenance and nourish your body, wildlife, and the lungs of Earth in the process.
- Carpool to work or school in the most low-emissions vehicle available. Or, better yet, walk or ride a bike when the weather permits it.
- Skip the hair dryer, iron, and curler, even if it’s just only weekends.
- Unplug appliances that are not in use.
- Turn off lights and heat in unoccupied rooms. (And when they are in use, make sure your using the most eco-friendly options available to you).
- Support local business and farmers who are working on, or using, sustainable practices for the planet.
- Invest your money in the future rather than the immediate pleasure of instant gratification.
- Teach your children that caring for their planet will ensure they have a planet to care for them.
- If you want to add a child or a pet to your home, consider rescuing one from a life of poverty and homelessness.
- Wear your clothes until you can wear them no more, then use them as rages, make something new out of them, or donate them to someone who can use them.
- Buy local. Buy eco-friendly. Buy used. Buy only what you need. Use a reusable bag to put your purchases in.
- Support zero-emissions energy sources whenever you are able to.
- Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Turn down the water when you shower.
- Skip the plastic whenever possible. Use refillable containers. Buy zero-waste products. Remember most of our waste is no longer recycled, and when it is, it takes large amounts of energy to do so.
And, most of all, breathe in the beauty of each morning. Breathe in joy and gratitude for the new day. Breathe in light and Breathe it back out. Imagine a new day where devastation is replaced with joy. Take at least one action each day to co-create another morning for all.