Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stop the Shopping!

How did Christmas come to be the trigger for a massive shopping binge?

Isn’t Christmas about celebrating the birth of a spiritual teacher whose central message was love?

What if we celebrated by showing love for the next seven generations and leaving some resources for their needs? What if in the spirit of giving, we thought about giving a future to those residents of poorer nations who will disproportionately bear the burden of a climate change they did not create? What if we admitted that we cannot consume our way to happiness and that most of the people we feel we must buy gifts for really have no need for any more material goods in their lives?

What if we stepped back from the frenzy and did what other good animals are doing in the dark months: slowing down, resting?

In an interesting piece in The Nation (November 28, 2011) called “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” Naomi Klein writes, “The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits does not just demand green products and market-based solutions; it demands a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal—and acutely sensitive to natural limits, including the limits of human intelligence.”

Respect for natural cycles of renewal. Think about it. The earth pushes up green sprouts in spring, flourishes full out in summer, drops everything in fall, and lies fallow in winter. Complete conservation of energy precedes new growth. It’s nature’s law. Why don’t we follow it?

I propose that we begin to see December as the month of Deep Rest. These lovely long dark nights are inviting us to turn inward, nap, hibernate, dream, snooze, imagine, indulge what Mary Oliver calls “the soft animal of your body.” “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,” she writes in that vastly overexposed poem, “Wild Geese.” It seems like good advice to take, especially at this time of year.