• Judy Mortellaro

Sharing Sacred Ground

I've spent many weeks traveling and camping in many states throughout the country. It has been an eye opener. I held a false perception that I would discover a wide range of behavior concerning cleanliness as well as care for our environment. Generally, however, I have found that we, as humans, dare I say it, are mindless slobs. Granted, I say generally. Granted, it's not a matter of black and white, but on the whole, I have found it to be the case. I have been from Florida to New York to California and places in between. No one group of peoples, no one state is exempt. As a whole, we are dedicated consumers who thoughtlessly throw packaging on walks, wooded paths, and beaches. There are cigarette butts around and in campsites (and I thought this was a thing of the past) even in dry, wooded areas. I've seen empty lots in all types of neighborhoods littered with paper trash and discarded metal and plastic waste. I rarely enter a public bathroom stall that does not have unflushed toilets, toilet paper and even human waste on the floor, toilet seat or walls.

I am guilty. As a young person, I too mindlessly tossed cigarette butts and candy wrappers on the ground. i am naive to believe that, as a nation, we are learning and growing to be more conscious of the way we treat one another, nonetheless, Mother Earth. I am aware that our present administration has not displayed concern about our environment or global warming. In any case, I didn't realize how we as Americans care so little about defacing and essentially devastating the land we live on and the space we all share. Why wouldn't you care about the next person who stays at the campsite you have just scattered with cigarette butts, paper and balloon scraps? Why is it that you would not be remotely embarrassed to leave urine on the toiled seat or a toilet filled with waste for the next person to be accosted by? Why wouldn't you care that the beauty of the woods and the beaches and mountains is marred by the trash you leave behind?

Until recently, I readily put the blame on the mega corporations who have packaged with materials that can't be recycled. I thought, "Please stop parceling everything in styrofoam! Please don't wrap fruit and vegetables in plastic! Please stop making plastic straws and providing them with every drink you serve!" My tune has now changed. "Can I be more responsible and more mindful about what I buy and how it's wrapped? It's ridiculous to think I can only buy what I need or want that's packaged with recyclable material, but I can limit it to a certain extent. For instance, for many years now, a thoughtful friend of mine brings her own container to the restaurant so she can bring what she hasn't eaten home with her and not have to use the styrofoam "doggy bags" many eateries still supply. Others bring their own jars to use instead of plastic bags when buying bulk foods. I know these are not going to solve our immense trash problems, but it is a start. After all, other countries are getting tired of cleaning up our mess and we are running out of room in the oceans!

At times, I've been angry about what I am seeing. Yesterday, while walking in the woods, I was reminded of Mother Earth's response. We are part of Nature and not apart from it and she continues to have compassion and Love for all that inhabit her space. This is sacred space. She is the Earth. This is her being. This is her spirit and it is in all nature. And yet, she continues to gift us without judgement of right or wrong. True, we are experiencing great natural disasters with extensive loss of life, human and otherwise. This is painful for her and all beings. Yet, this is just nature seeking balance, not retribution for misdeeds. Imagine, she has so much Love for us, that she would seek to balance what we have mindlessly brought to disharmony!

I trust that in some way, I can teach others how we can live harmoniously. I trust that I can have as much compassion as Mother Earth and give back to her by treating all of nature with Love. I trust that I can learn to walk mindfully on this sacred ground and, one by one, teach others to do the same.

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