In times like ours, so marked by apocalyptic goings-on from climate change to climate change denial, from the failures of education, media, politics, economics and religion, it is important that we not succumb to despair or to non-action or to reptilian brain action-reaction. We need to go deeper within our own souls and within the genius of our species to find anew what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.” Yes, we are witnessing the death of institutions and systems that are no longer serving us or Mother Earth well any longer. We journey into this dying in order to break into new forms of community, religion, spirituality, education—-creativity that will give birth to deeper forms of living and interacting with one another and other beings on this small, intertwined planet.
We feel that the Order of the Sacred Earth provides a new vision, but one that has precedents in our Western, Eastern and Indigenous histories. The vision we are proposing came to Matthew and Skylar in different ways in dreams three years ago. It is about a new spiritual (not religious) order. We say “not religious” because it will not be beholden to any religious headquarters or to only one religious tradition. More and more people are open to drinking in wisdom from the Earth herself, and the many spiritual traditions and practices that sustain life.
Many identify themselves at this time in history as “spiritual but not religious.” It is possible of course for some people to be both spiritual and religious, but people must make an effort, all spirituality requires effort through presence, intention, practice and direct action. We include action because we are in a time when contemplation alone is insufficient in addressing the needs of our times and the more-than-human world. So our vision of a new order extends to those who call themselves spiritual but not religious, and those who identify as spiritual and religious, and also those who may call themselves either agnostic or atheist. Whoever feels the call to help create a community vessel such as the Order of the Sacred Earth (OSE). Indeed, at our first vow-sharing ritual held in a Buddhist center in Berkeley California in which about 80 people participated, at least one of those persons identified as atheist. A twenty-eight year old woman said to me: “I am atheist but I am looking for a community which shares my values of love of the earth. I feel I might have found it here.”
What is at stake is not a particular religious or spiritual tradition but something much larger than our specific religions: The future of Mother Earth and therefore the future of countless species including our own. All are endangered. Humans can and must make a difference.
The essence of OSE is a common vow we all make: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of Mother Earth that I can be.”
See Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, Jennifer Listug, Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action, pp.xiiif.
Queries for Contemplation
How does this straight-forward vow strike you?
Can you see yourself taking it and encouraging others to take it?
Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug
In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.” ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.