An Open Letter and Call
to All Those Participating in the Great Work
From the Earth Literacy Project
EarthLight #41 -- Spring 2001
As we reflect upon the evolutionary life of Earth we find ourselves at a new graced moment in time. We are provided with an extraordinary opportunity to walk across bridges into a world of new possibilities. During the opening years of the 21st century we can finally reflect on where we are, what we are doing, and what we need to do in the future as we live into a revolutionary new Earth/human relationship.
We so deeply appreciate the thoughtful work of visionaries Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Matthew Fox, and Teilhard de Chardin who, with the aid of countless numbers of scientists and scholars, have helped to identify the immense geological and biological transition in which we now live. We now know that we live at the end of a 65-million year period of the greatest diversity and grandeur ever experienced in the history of Earth. It is ending.
Our generation still holds the memories of the awe and majesty of this period. We have stories and memories of vast, unbounded skies, seas, jungles and wild animals, of mountains, deserts, infinite starry nights, underwater universes, flocks of migratory birds, exotic animals and the bounty of numberless small farms. Now we face the shock that we may be the last generation to have seen, heard, tasted, and touched these wonders.
In his book, The Great Work, Thomas Berry reminds us that we humans barely understand the vast, intricate web of life. "We cannot make a blade of grass," he writes, "but there may not in the future be a blade of grass" unless we accept, protect, and foster it. These words vibrate in our hearts and minds and we say Yes to the enormity of our generation's task of accepting, protecting, and fostering the remnants of our living Earth. There is a growing number of voices sounding a louder Yes. Planet-wide, there is a growing sense that this Yes will be the Great Work of our time. Here are some of the questions arising out of discernment of the Yes.
What is Earth asking of us at this moment? What if we saw ourselves as a movement giving voice to an emerging Ecozoic era? What if we viewed Earth as a connection of webs (European, Asian, Australian, African, South American, and North American), an integral Earth Literacy "campus" with each of us and countless others invited to become a vast community / faculty of learning? What if we begin to envision and design regional gatherings over the next 5-10 years, working together to host conferences and provide immersion experiences for people interested in learning about the Universe Story in settings closer to their home regions? What if we believed that we could become part of a communion whose purpose is to create a vibrant, regenerative Earth community?
Today there is an exciting convergence of the diverse creativity of many individuals, organizations, and institutions hearing the call of the Great Work and seeing their unique role within this large cosmological context. A suggested name for this convergence of energy: Earth Literacy Web.
The term Earth Literacy is not new. It was originally framed out of one of the insights to the question, "What is Earth asking of us?" In Thomas Berry's words, Earth is primary, the human is derivative, and Earth is our primary teacher.
In the late 1980s, a small group of educators set out to develop Earth Literacy courses, curricula, and resources with implications for living in the Universe Story. Their efforts cast seeds, which cast further seeds, bonding with multiple other efforts. A small but committed movement has taken form.
So how do we-those who say Yes-continue our own educational transformation? How do we find others in our regions and around the world with whom we can journey, exchange ideas, and work? How can we feel energized with such an arduous task and enormous vision in front of us? Can we self-organize into a grassroots movement of people, work in synergy, and become a voice for the community of life?
EarthLight has heard these questions over our ten years of publishing and more recently has heard invitations arise to place our journal at the service of helping this movement identify, connect, and organize itself. We are honored to accept such an invitation. The time is right.
We at EarthLight are dedicated to advancing the New Cosmology, and we hope you will be a part of this growing venture. Together we form an unimaginable body of resources and energy.
Your collaboration in the Earth Literacy Web will give you the opportunity to help shape this young network. We invite you to participate by filling out and mailing in the Earth Literacy Web's Membership Form (click here).
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