Rev. Anthony Makar in latest issue of UUWORLD
Nature demands respect
‘Our village life would stagnate,” our Unitarian Universalist spiritual ancestor Henry David Thoreau writes in Walden, “if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wildness. . . . We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks. . . . We need to witness our own limits transgressed.”
I would argue that in recent weeks this need has been amply met. I would call the fourth-largest city in the United States being underwater a transgression of human limits. I would call the evacuation of approximately 6 million people from Florida a transgression, as Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history, broke upon the American coastline. And the devastation Maria brought to Puerto Rico, which may leave 3.4 million people without power for months, is nothing if not a transgression of human limits.
Our own human limits are like a red stop sign standing atop a slender metal pole: the gale force winds just shred it apart.
This is what we are witnessing.
Thoreau, our spiritual ancestor, is trying to tell us something. We stagnate as human beings when we get overly sentimental or saccharine about nature. Nature is not just walks in the woods and garden flowers. Nature is also hurricanes and earthquakes and wildfires.