This morning was a regular morning. I was out on my bicycle for one of my usual visits to what has become a kind of urban temple for me, Leslie Spit.

The sun was glimmering off the water greeting my eyes with sparkling stars of light. Between the sightings of gold finches, curious martens, little bunny rabbits, cormorants (in abundance), red winged black birds, bundles of gold, purple, and blue blossoms swaying in the morning breeze, and sculptures of urban debris assembled by creative or bored city dwellers, there was an ease of being.

As I sat in the presence of the swirling of life around me, I was overcome with gratitude yet again for the earth we live on and for the power of life which allows things to grow and thrive in even the most stark conditions such as on this peninsula of rubble and construction waste.

Nature can be such a profound teacher for us. It is ever changing through the cycles of life and death. It reveals the truth of our physical impermanence so vividly and yet also shows the process of renewal and growth, a resilience much like that of the human body and spirit.  It teaches us of the inner quiet and stillness that exists beyond the chatter of the mind and reveals the path towards unjudging presence.

Unfortunately, in the city we have largely been cut off from the teachings our earth has to offer us. We shelter ourselves from nature’s lessons by staying in our relatively static homes until the inevitable lessons of change find their way to us. Further, many of us (and I include myself in this) live in profound denial of the impact that our life and choices have on the earth itself.

If, however, we truly attune ourselves to the interconnectedness of all life around the globe, past, present, and future, then we know that what hurts the earth also hurts ourself. There is no separation.  The body of our earth is being mined and drilled. The forest – the earth’s lungs – are being cut down. The creatures – the earth’s immune system – are dying.  The atmosphere – her protective skin – is being slowly destroyed.  The impact of these changes can already be felt in the increasing temperature and increased frequency of natural disasters and more is soon to come.  The research has well documented this and yet change in human behavior seems remote.

Given the scale of this tragic devastation to our earth, I am happy when I can be “one less car on the road” and it is a joyful offering to be one more bicycle.  When I cycle I can feel the breeze in my hair, the movement and strength of the body, and can be in close contact with my surroundings.

David Trattles, (who is a tremendously entertaining speaker and will be speaking alongside Father Charles Ogada on August 20th at the Be The Change seminar) takes it one peddle further. He has cycled through more than 60 countries doing what he calls “slow journalism”.  He has always said that being on a bicycle has allowed him to connect with people, life and the natural world in a profound way. Dave’s passion for cycling (especially in India) is matched only by his compassion for and joy at meeting the people he connects with while on his bicycle.

While we can’t all cycle through 60 countries, there are many small ways that we can put “one less car on the road” and here are a few suggestions:

  • Try riding a bicycle to work, taking public transit, walking, or car pooling.
  • Be happy with what you have – if our happiness depends on endless accumulation of stuff, gadgets, and debt, we will never be satisfied and we will unnecessarily harm the earth.
  • Use reusable containers, bags, and bottles as much as you can or buy biodegradable options
  • Spend time in nature to remind yourself of why she is so important
  • Grow your own veggies, join a community garden, or buy local produce so you don’t need to buy imports. This will reduce transportation and therefore green house gas emissions.
  • Buy second hand, or trade for items you need (less garbage, packaging, and transport)
  • Share what you have with those who are in need.
  • Plant a tree (this will at least remove some green house gases from the atmosphere)
  • Be vegetarian for a day (or for the rest of your life. If you need recipe ideas, my friend Lee’s new Vegan cookbook just came out.  Peace and Parsnips is the first major vegan cook book published in the UK and is inspired by love, travel and creativity.

Wishing you all a beautiful remainder of summer and looking forward to seeing you August 20th at the Be the Change seminar!

Peace and love,

Shira

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