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An Ecology of Devotion
A Personal Exploration of Reverence for Life
EarthLight Magazine, Issue 49, Summer 2003
by Dennis Rivers (Revised 1/1/2004)
Somewhere in his essays about the ecological crises of our time, I
remember Wendell Berry writing What we do not love, we will not save.
One of the many possible implications that I draw from his statement is
that the eco-spiritual life is breath-like:
the more we want to reach out to
nurture the web of life (and save our
own species along the way), the more
deeply we will need to journey into our
own hearts to connect with loves
sustaining energy.
Although Planet Earth needs love
the way a person lost in the desert
needs water, love cannot be summoned
by a simple act of will. Love, in my
experience, is not like an object
already in our possession, that we
could give if we chose to do so. Love
seems to me much more like a garden
that will eventually bear fruit if cultivated in a spirit of apprenticeship,
taking the time to learn about each tree and plant.
In this essay I will explore a five-fold vision of what might be called
an ecology of devotion: a way of seeing how our various loves, concerns,
gratitudes, adorations and celebrations are all part of a larger organic
These many loves and concerns call to us, often in a chaotic din,
urging us forward in many directions, appealing to us at many levels:
friends need comfort, a new baby is born, the forests are dying, the
dolphins are beaching, millions of land mines wait silently for human or
Pilgrim Marion C. Honors