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11 February 2009

I am an empathetic person, to put it politely. I am emotional; I cry easily and laugh even easier, not just at my own pleasures and pain, but at any I see or hear or read about. I cry at plays and movies at books and newspapers. I am uplifted by a friend’s success or by the sight of a butterfly on a beautiful day.

When asked why Food (and by extension the Earth and the environment) is My Issue, the arguments I give are economic and anthropocentric (and to be outlined in a post forthcoming). But there are Other reasons.

I am reading Sallie McFague’s The Body of God. I am not a christian person, nor an ecofeminist as she identifies. Yet the book is difficult to read. Not because it is obtuse, for it is very well written, the argumentation very clear: the earth is the body of God, a sin against the earth is a sin against God. Humanity is unique, one of the most complex creatures in common creation story, but we are vulnerable, for we need the world, the universe – we are made of it. We are self-aware and moral, and thereby have responsibility to live truthfully….

It is an argument that resonates with me and stirs up strong emotions. Which isn’t hard to do. Most everything I’ve read so far this year for Religion & Ecology and my directed reading on Food and Sustainability, as well as many of my Food and Sustainable Living blogs and the news about the current economic and environmental crisis. Alternatingly, I’m filled with a sense of grief of how we’ve mistreated the earth and how much suffering there is, a sense of hope that there are people who understand, a sense of frustration of how many people refuse to see, a sense of awareness of how the world is connected, a sense of humility of how much I do not know, a sense of determination of the work there is to be done, a sense of helplessness of how much I need to learn…..

It’s strange. Last year, last semester even, it was my economics homework that I struggled with, because of the mental energy it took, energy I was still recovering. Now, macroeconomics and urban economics are the course work I turn to for a breather. They are difficult courses, but the energy they use is only mental, logical, practical. Religion and my Reading use that too, but what’s so exhausting is not the energy the take, but the energy they create within me. So much emotion, at times to be paralyzing. I don’t know what to do with it.

* * *

I have never accepted or denied the existence of a higher being or a creator, and I might never do so. I was raised by an agnostic father and a rationalistic anti-Catholic mother. I was raised Jewish for a few years, almost inexplicably, but it was for the sake of “exposure” rather than belief.

But in the past couple of years I have been aware that there is a yearning within me for a more spiritual life., for such a sense of grounding, of meaning, of community, of connection. At times it is almost painful. It finds outlet in bursts of emotional connection with experience and knowledge. There is so much energy there, in need of focus.

But I do not know what I am looking for. Or even what questions to ask.

How, where, do I begin?


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