Lessons to Learn from the Current Wildfires

We who live in the West have had our share of wildfires the last few years and it is very sad to see millions of people now undergoing the same calamity in 16 states and in many of our largest cities these days. 

As smoke from Canadian wildfires blankets East Coast, Dr. Vin Gupta outlines the health impacts. MSNBC

And of course in Canada too, where the current wildfires are emanating from.  Pictures of the reddened sun and the deep haze over New York and many other cities makes graphic why so many cities issued extended air quality alerts Thursday.  Sensitive groups like children, those with underlying respirator conditions, and those over 65 are especially vulnerable. 

Flights to New York were stopped and in Philadelphia everyone was urged to stay inside. Of course, pets too are endangered and questions like: “Dare I walk my dog?”  and “can children play outdoors?” become pressing.   

In Canada, significant fires are burning in every single province and territory except for Prince Edward Island and Nunavut.  One expert predicted that if fires continue to burn as they have, by September there would be more scorched forest than has ever been recorded. 

As wildfires rage across Canada, Mike Armstrong covers regional conditions and predictions. Global News

Already this year there have been over 2200 wildfires in Canada that have blackened more than 3.3 million hectares of Canadian wild lands—which is more than five million football fields!

What spiritual lessons can we learn from this catastrophe?  One is that more wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, draughts and floods are a sign of our times.  And Yes, most of them are due to climate change. 

Politicians who are as in denial about wildfires and these other realities as they are about assault weapons that kill innocent people should be voted out of office.  Fossil fuel companies that lie about what they know and have known for decades–like the manufacturers of cigarettes did–ought to be fined with the money earned invested in finding alternative energy sources.

Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault discusses steps the federal government is taking against climate change in Canada. CTV News

A spiritual response also includes realizing not to take the health of Mother Earth for granted including clean air, healthy forests, healthy children, animals and human beings.  It is a call to recognize the inherent sacredness of Mother Earth.

It also reminds us how national boundaries are man-made as are red and blue states—the deadly smoke wafting about is no respecter of country divides or of political identities.

Also, emergencies like this bring out generosity on the part of many: Currently firefighters from the United States, France, South Africa and many other countries are arriving to assist Canada.

See Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson and Jen Listug, The Order of the Sacred Earth.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using GOES 16 imagery courtesy of NOAA and the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). Photograph by Colin Seftor (SSAI). 

Queries for Contemplation

What does this news of the “signs of the times” caused by climate change do to your view of the world?  Are we being invited to move beyond our boundaries and nations and states with red and blue identities to find common ground to defend Mother Earth?

Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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.

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24 thoughts on “Lessons to Learn from the Current Wildfires”

  1. Avatar

    One of the wildfires in Nova Scotia was only 26 kilometers or 16 miles from the cities of Halifax (where I live) and Dartmouth which are home to almost half of the provincial population. At last report, the fires in that locale consumed over 150 homes and 200 structures in total. Not to mention the tens of thousands of evacuees living in the vicinity. Our neighbour has two daughters whose families evacuated. One family is husband and wife firefighters with children and the other with children as well. The 2nd family had one home on either side of them and theirs that survived the fires but all around them up to their backyards burned to the ground. Relived but with smoke damage now to contend with. Others will have a long time to get the insurance proceeds in order to rebuild. Getting contractors is difficult at best and rebuilding 150 homes will take a considerable amount of time.
    Many insurance companies stop issuing new policies within a large kilometer range while a wildfire rages. Home sales could not close as new policies were not being issued. The very fortunate aspect of both wildfires in Nova Scotia (a larger one raged in a rural area with 60 homes destroyed) is that no one died. That of course does not include wildlife who either died or have not been displaced.
    We too have ‘kindling wood’ all along a nature path about 100’ from our home. Trees and limbs, as a result of hurricane damage, are drying out and need to be hauled away.

  2. Avatar

    I do not know why you are so political and so righteous. I agree with so much you have to say about our relationship with God, but every now and then I am forced to wade through your political views. A tornado tore though our beachside neighborhood in Florida day before yesterday – something unknown – leaving behind a trail of destruction. Fortunately there were no deaths. Neighbors have come together to help one another. Climate change is a fact, a fact of nature and yes maybe man has had an influence, but we are not sure to what extent – it is less than a hundred years since we removed the smoke from our own homes. But none of this means that I tell you to “shut up,” or that you have no rights. The biggest problem we have in this country has nothing to do with climate change – it is the Second Commandment of Jesus – love one another. Each one of us is able to fix that problem. God Bless you.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Hi Randal,
      So sorry to hear the about recent tornado and glad to hear – no deaths.

      I am perplexed – did I miss something. I went back and listened and read Matt’s DM and didn’t find anything about “Shut Up” or that one has “no rights”.

      Must be difficult for you, to find the Meditations helpful and yet you also find them challenging. Know what, Randal? I think we all find the Meditations test and cause us to re-evaluate where we stand on each of the topics. We neither have to agree or disagree – we make our personal choice when we feel the nudge to re-evaluate and determine if we are in a healthy and good-choice place, honoring the one another and the Sacred Earth we call our home. …..You know – the Love One Another piece.

      Matthew quotes folks like Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Berry, etc…. They are the voices that challenge us over the centuries to the now.

      I really must have missed something. Cause your comment sounds so much like Matt’s.
      I totally agree – the Commandment of Jesus is all about Love. And that’s what you and Matthew have put forth in the examples of helping each other and Mother Earth during these turbulent and unprecedented days.

      I pray that the recent turmoil you have faced is healed in the tenderness, the coming together of your community.

  3. Avatar

    Re wildfires! ake
    Climate change or careless campers??? Humans not !ware of their destructive actions. The problem isnt just climate change but lack of consciousness in unaware human beings!

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      I am in Ohio and grateful that RIGHT NOW it is raining here. The Earth had deep cracks due to the dryness of the weather. I hope it rains for a couple of days. This kind of dryness in Ohio isn’t the norm. Climate Change – or whatever name you want to give to the Earth’s changes – there is much science behind the way we humans have negatively impacted our beloved planet. And I totally agree with you – we need to be conscious humans! Protect Earth when she is so dry that one match can destroy a forrest and more.

  4. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Climate change is a reality and science has proven that it is in fact largely due to humanity, dishonoring the Sacred Mother Earth. Over the past week where I live, in Northern Ontario, not only has the sun been red, but the moon at night has also been red. Further north, not only are hectares of forests burning, but the ground water is also being contaminated in some rural areas, due to the chemicals the firefighters use from the air to put out the fires. The government is offering free water testing kits for people to test their wells.

    The effects of climate change are heartwrenchingly devastating in so many ways. The environmental scientists, with their prophetic voices and scientific research have warned humanity for years, what the world is now experiencing; however many political and corporate powers refused to heed the scientists serious truth-telling message.

    The effects of climate change and the crisises continously unfolding is bringing humanity globally together. I am grateful to the many countries that are supporting Canada, in many ways. It is raining here today and I am also grateful for this blessing as well. Humanity collectively and globally must respond NOW, to the necessary changes we all need to make, for the sacredness of all that which exists, is at stake.

  5. Avatar

    Yes, Matthew, we’re all called to heal and respect sacred Mother Earth around the world. We’ve been polluting and destroying her for a long time, starting with the colonial powers of the West in the 15th century toward Indigenous peoples and lands all over the world. These toxic, destructive, and spiritually unbalanced patriarchal beliefs/values/actions gradually increased the past 800yrs., especially with the rise of our capitalistic industrial societies since the 19th century with increased pollution/destruction of Mother Earth to our present consequent climate and environmental crises around the world, also destroying many living species and threatening our own human species. Our Loving co-Creator-Source’s Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Truth~Peace~Justice~Healing~Forgiveness~Transformation~Freedom~
    Creativity~Beauty~Joy~Compassion… Present within, through, among Us must be kept Alive by our unique “True Heart Selves~Eternal Sacred Souls~Cosmic Consciousness” serving together in Loving Diverse Oneness with Sacred Mother Earth and our Sacred multidimensional-multiverse evolving Cosmos….

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      I feel that also, Barbara.
      Here’s a thought – Earth can continue to exist, and be better/healthier without us.
      Can’t imagine that we can exist without her!
      What are we doing? Destroying our Earth home feels more than a bit disturbing to me.

  6. Avatar

    Maybe these continuing catastrophes will wake up some, but it seems that the worse the event, such as school shootings, the more denial there is. We can help our neighbors in these situations, and we can continue to speak out and work toward seeing the sacred in creation in every peaceful way possible. Prayers for Bill, Jeanette, and Randal and all of those who have been affected by the fires and the tornado. As Bill points out, recovery will be slow; Hurricane Michael devastated parts of Florida some years ago, and there are still people, mostly poor, who have not been able to rebuild their homes. The love and generosity of people is wonderful, and I wish it would translate more often into public policies that could help prevent further disasters and more equitably help the victims.

  7. Avatar
    Barbara McGurran

    The numerous effects of climate change on Mother Earth bring to my mind the Old Testament stories of the ten plagues which finally convinced the pharaoh of Egypt to release the Israelites from their bondage. Is Mother Earth in bondage?How many more drastic weather events will it take to wake up humanity and effect a change in consciousness in minds and hearts?

  8. Avatar

    The earth will still be here after the effects of climate change. It is Homo sapiens who may become extinct while nature heals and reasserts herself.

  9. Avatar

    I agree regarding artificial boundaries denoting who ‘owns’ what land (s) and boundaries delineating countries. We are all children of our Mother Earth and supported diversity ensures we learn how to live in harmony with each other, and share our resources. This will ensure that the widespread insanity which has come to be known as ‘normal’ come to its rightful end, ensuring peaceful resolutions, locally, nationally and internationally.
    So more it Be!

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      We humans think it is all ours!
      It’s a long story of how it is this way….
      We did it. We have the power to change it.
      I actually love the thought that I belong to the Universe.
      I love our amazing Cosmos and am honored to be a vital part of this creation story.
      Thank you, Hubble and thank you James Web Space Telescope! I love being able to experience the Cosmos – without boundaries! So much freedom. We belong to it as the awareness of all of it, belongs to us. All about a loving relationship of give and take – that means sharing our ‘beingness’ with each other.
      Thanks for the opportunity to respond to your comment. Yes!

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