Continuing on our theme of how do we respond to the environmental crisis, I’d like to share a perspective that I find helpful.
When I was training with the Institute of Psychosynthesis we were taught a way of relating to clients who came to see us that enabled us to honour and truly see the person sitting in front of us as both a person who was coming for help because they felt wounded or broken, but also as a person who in the deepest soul-sense was ‘whole and unbroken’. The beautiful phrase of the alchemist and healer Paracelsus was used to convey this idea: “In every human being there is a special heaven whole and unbroken”.
But how do you relate to someone as both whole and broken? Joan & Roger Evans who founded the Institute suggested the analogy of ‘bifocal vision’. Just like using bifocals which offer your eyes two ways of seeing, so we can respect and work with both aspects of a client.
In thinking of the world and how we can best respond in this time of crisis, I find the same bifocal perspective helps me greatly. Seeing the brokenness, the devastation humans have wreaked on the planet, opens me to sorrow but also to compassion and to acts of service; seeing the beauty, the paradise that nature offers, opens me to hope, moves me to worship of the natural world, and it also opens me to the desire to be of service. So both perspectives lead me to the same place, but by different paths – of sorrow and joy. And without the joy and hope, I am not sure I would have the energy to be of any use.
How can we be of use? Tree-planting is one of the best ways, and I’d like to recommend the work done by my friend Andreas Kornevall who lives in Lewes. His charity, the Earth Restoration Service, has found that in many instances the Earth grows trees better than us planting them, and that the best way to foster new woodland is to build a fence around an area – natural hawthorn fence is ideal – to keep sheep out. Within ten years you have a fabulous growth which is beneficent to wildlife and is also a powerful carbon sink.
The second best option is to get saplings with local DNA – local trees thrive more than imported ones – and plant them out. For this exercise, anyone who donates to Andreas’ charity are given the peace of mind that each tree becomes a teacher. They plant “tree nurseries” inside schools – these tree nurseries grow and are nurtured by the children, and once mature, the saplings are then planted out with the whole community. Two hundred new woodlands have been planted through the Earth Restoration Service in this way. Their aim is to plant 50,000 trees and enough flowers to attract 20 million insects across 1,000 sites by World Earth Day in 2020.
You can donate a tree for just £1 or sponsor a school tree nursery or a ‘flutter flower meadow’ for £350. Do have a look at their project here.