Earth’s self-care

The blue-and-green-marbled planet is trying her best to restore stability.

On this dock overlooking a lake in the Adirondack Mountains, there are two wooden chairs. This morning I sit in one of the chairs, as I have on so many other mornings, and look across the lake to the steep ridge on the other side, now beginning to shimmer with the rays of the sun rising behind it. The ridgeline, so familiar to me that I could draw it for you blindfolded, is a series of soft peaks bending northward, bowing in the direction of the retreat of the Laurentian glacier that formed them. Although I cannot see beneath the green shawl of trees worn across their shoulders, the peaks are made of a very old, rarely visible part of the igneous crust of Earth thrust upward and released: still reaching, undulating, bending, spreading.

The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs (Ps. 114:4). But the tempo of the dance is very slow: mountain time. The dance is accompanied by the up-tempo journey of drops of water tumbling down the sides of the ridge, carving the igneous rock into soft scoops in the streambeds, and spilling into this lake, where they rest for a while until the summer heat evaporates them upward to form clouds, from whence they will once again return as rain, here or somewhere else. In the morning mists or in an afternoon rain, I see a glimpse of this process.

Both the ridgeline and the drops, stone and water, exhibit Earth’s agency: actions designed to produce a particular effect, demonstrating the rhythm of the planet’s intrinsic formation of herself, her continual becoming.