Earth Wisdom and Cultivating Place


I’ve been following Jennifer Jewell‘s Cultivating Place on Instagram for some time now, but only recently listened to the podcast. I was immediately transported to my listening space of On Being with Krista Tippett. Not only is Jewell’s voice and tone similar to Tippett’s, Jewell began the interview of the episode “Earth Wisdom” by asking where Raymond Barnett, author of the book Earth Wisdom, is from. Opening with origins is classic Tippett, making me feel I was in a cozy, familiar place.

As anticipated by the early parallels with OB, CP got deep. From Barnett’s early life and interest in theology, we move from an overview of Taoist to the similarities between Muir’s writings on his philosophy of life. Barnett sees “three pillars” of the “immanent world view” of Muir and Taosim: “1. That this earthly world is our true home – there is no better place, this is not a test; 2. that we as humans are equal to, and intimately related to all other living things. Humans are not “higher” and do not have “dominion” but are 1 part of a very complex and interdependent whole; 3. That in all of life there is a critically important balance always being calibrated between opposite energies – light and dark, hard and fluid, female and male, Yin and Yang, and that if any individual, culture, or ecosystem is out of balance and overly dominated by any one energy, then it is not healthy and will not be able to sustain itself over time” (from http://mynspr.org/).

I’ve been trying to figure out my place here and now in the world we all share and have been thinking more and more about what purpose I give me life. I want that purpose to be a balancing force in the culture and ecosystem I am part of, where I embody the pillars Barnett describes. To this end, I garden, observe flowers and bugs, and do all I can to interact with my environment in a mutually beneficial way as part of the wider Earth Community (see Cormac Cullinan’s book “Wild Law“). In the end, I was not disappointed by the early parallels between Cultivating Place and On Being. I am very much in love with the ideas espoused by Barnett and Muir and am grateful to hear about Earth Wisdom at this time in my life. I’d love Jewell, Tippett, and Barnett to record a long conversation on these topics!

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