[The words of this sonnet are printed below.]
We may live in a polarized society but one thing that unites most of us is the perception that many of our social systems have failed to provide the life of our ideals and dreams. They have proven unsustainable and left the vast majority of people economically and environmentally insecure and caused many groups of people to suffer chronic injustice. We need a new vision that can unite us and lead us forward.
The new vision we need is not a campaign slogan, it is not an -ism, it is a way of seeing humanity and our place on earth anew. We need the vision of oneness and sustainable social goodness that the great saints, prophets and philosophers of all traditions have tried to help us attain. We need the transformation of human consciousness that they underwent and showed is possible for us all.
Who is the “we” that needs this? It is not just humanity, not just all living species who are endangered by human activity, it is life itself, the whole project of life on earth beginning with the first living cells billions of years ago and flowing on into the potential lives of billions of years to come. If you believe in a creator God, or a universal force of love and life and light that sparks evolution, that spirit would be part of the “we,” too.
The good news is that this collective “we” of life wants to live, and all successful life-forms have programmed into themselves the ability to adapt and evolve. Human consciousness has proven its ability to do so many times, for instance in the Axial Age when Greek philosophers, artists and writers, Hebrew prophets and the founders of the great Asian religions reflected a major world-wide advance, or in the 17th Century dawning of the Age of Enlightenment.
We have within us the potential to grow rapidly in order to survive and thrive, and we need to fulfill that potential now. How can we do it?
This poem talks literally about part of my own path to new vision, but it is speaking metaphorically about all our different paths. We do not all find our place of vision in nature, but we all have a land, a place deep within us, a sacred glade, a secret room—a place we reach through some inner journey, some form of quieting that enables us to hear the still, small voice, the silent stirring that is the spirit of life speaking to us the words we need.
The world urgently needs us to listen now, and to live by what we hear, and to share what we learn. So whatever form this takes for you, I urge you to go
To the Land
When I need vision I go to the land
and walk alone through asters, woods rock moss,
Grass of Parnassus*, through a high oak stand.
The stream talks both of promise and of loss,
a constant flow consoling, calming me.
I’ve learned I need seclusion and retreat
if I am going to serve eternity
and not add to confusion and defeat.
So as I seek the way to speak and act
to fight rapacious greed and raging fear
and save the common good they have attacked,
I know my work must always come from here,
the seat of oracle, the sacred glade,
the land of vision God for God’s sake made.
copyright 2020 Thomas Cary Kinder