Thursday, February 28, 2008


This morning there were clouds and the sun was coming out for only a few moments at a time. But as I walked along I heard a sound I had not hear since last summer. It was the first skylark of the year. Instantly my heart swelled, as it always does, at the sound of that exuberant cascade of notes falling from somewhere in the early morning sky.

As I searched for the small, dark dot I knew would be up there somewhere, against the background of grey-white cumulus and small patches of blue, I found myself wondering: what must it feel like to flutter up and up and up like that, singing as you go?

Would you look down, delighted to find that as you gained height you could see more and more of the landscape beneath you? Would you look up, wondering how much higher you could go before your breath began to come less easily in the thinning air? Or would you just concentrate on singing?

And if you sang, would it be because of your passionate intention to make your voice heard, especially by certain others to whom it seemed especially important to convey your message? Or would it be because the song came bursting from the depths of your soul, out into the cool, morning air and there was nothing you could possibly do but give voice to it?

I believe that the reason many committed people – especially environmental activists and those who work for social justice – end up suffering from burnout, is that although they care deeply about issues, their caring grows out of indignation and anger rather than out of a sheer, full-hearted love of the Earth and everything in it. It is only when our passion is infused with spirituality and when our anguish is shot through with joy that we are able to fly high enough above the world’s problems to see the larger landscape. That’s when the goal-seeking, the understanding, the passion, the message and the joyous celebration of life on this lovely planet all merge together in one outpouring.

And that’s how we can keep coming back, season after season, down to the ground where the hard work happens and then up again into the sky. Not to escape from our groundedness into some imagined heaven but to see more clearly the heaven that is right here, all around us, and to which, with every atom of our being, we belong.

That’s the secret power that powers our wings and keeps us singing. Even on days when the sun is not shining.


Wren said...

Thanks for your wonderful example of joy, and how it leads us to give of ourselves freely.

Sharon J said...

"It is only when our passion is infused with spirituality and when our anguish is shot through with joy that we are able to fly high enough above the world’s problems to see the larger landscape."

Such wise words. Thank you.

Barbara said...

This is beautiful, Marian. Thank you so much. It lifts my soul...

Anonymous said...

Lovely, Marion. I, like Sharon, found the line about "anguish shot through with joy" to be especially poignant. I was blind-sided the other week by the news that the oceans have reached their tipping point.

I could scarcely believe my eyes when I walked up to the fields near the Belgian village where I live and saw and heard a skylark for the first time. I knew what it was straight away although we don't have them in Canada. I had been missing my family and thinking particularly of my father, a WW2 vet, who was in his final illnes with cancer. The poem "In Flanders' Fields" (written by a Canadian) was running in my mind, as it continued to do every time I went for a walk for the first couple of years we were here: "...and the larks, still bravely singing, fly... I was almost brought to my knees with wonder and gratitude.

High Power Rocketry said...

: )

Cheryl said...

I am so glad I stumbled across your blog. What an inspirational piece of work. It lifted my spirit and restored my soul, thank you so very much.

I to hear sky larks, but they have not arrived yet. To hear them is a total and complete joy.

Karen said...

Trying to come from a place of love rather than anguish and anger is always a challenge, but you're right, it keeps us from burnout. wonderful words. After a long hard winter here in Kansas, the first dark morning that I heard birdsong (solo, plaintive) gave me such a rush of pleasure it was difficult to describe.

LadyLuz said...

It's been so very pleasurable to wander through your blog and feel uplifted and infused with some of your positivity.

Thank you Marion.

Anonymous said...

You go, girl! Sorry to post this commnent so late, but I read blogs when I can, and there are so many lovely ones. I do believe that action comes so much more easily out of love and gratitude, than it does from a sense of "duty." And I so love the birds, and what they have to teach us. Thanbks for this.

dok said...

Beautiful sentiment...and photographs...thank you...I will return!

I hope you will visit IdeasforGoingGreen

I think you'll like it!