A little simplistic sometimes, but I like it nevertheless. It helps me get through exam season.
Category Archives: Spirituality
Growing up, walking on grass was just not something we did — there was so little of it, after all, in our sky-scraping city with its parks of concrete. Grass is something precious there; something to be looked at, but never walked upon. Coupled with our mothers’ fears of us picking up dirt and parasites (but mostly dirt), it doesn’t surprise me to reflect on how I have never really walked upon the earth until recently.
And yet it is one of the most basic acts we know in our bones. An act our ancestors did without a second thought, to walk on the ground that gives rise to each of us. We follow them in their footsteps with each pressing of a sole onto the soil, each lifting up and setting down again, our skin to the earth’s.
An act I have been relearning in this past summer, taught out of me by the misgivings of people who have been out of touch with the thing they speak of for so long, they come to fear it.
The dirt is really nothing, in itself.
A brushing of the foot before you slip it into your shoe, a cleaning or a washing away with clear running water when you get home — it is something, to have clear running water at our beck and call.
It doesn’t always match up to what I think it will be.
The closest I came to knowing grass as a child, was by reading of it, the same way most of my ‘knowledge’ is acquired. But none of it is true knowing, not when you’ve never really felt the supple, forgiving blades for what they are, not when you know the difference between sparse, thinly growing grass and thick lush patches — and I used to think that it would always be thick and lush. That it would be a soft, springy carpet that would feel divine to walk upon, because that’s how my childhood stories romanticized them. And once in a blue moon, if I am lucky (or if someone has watered their garden to no end), that’s what I get. More often than not, however, it is more like the grass I walked upon today: in some parts soft, in most parts tougher, with more individual strands you can feel, but which bend under your weight regardless.
It gives me a kind of peace to walk like this. To fill in some of the gaps of what I never knew, and will never know in the same way as one who grows up with the knowledge of the land as their birthright instinctively does.
And I will have to learn, all my life, what others take for granted, and will have to remember, with great effort, how to care for this place that we live on. This place, this earth, I did not even know how much I cared for until I came to see and touch and listen to with the senses of my own body, that had once known nothing more than what other humans had created out of stone and steel and concrete — amazing, wondrous things, but creations with no sense of context when seen away, apart from, the rest of the world that we live in.
Each time I reach out and touch the earth for myself, I forge another link in this new, and somehow ancient, relationship. I am (re)discovering the meaning of grass by learning of its being; this grass that is one of my namesakes in the language of my human heritage. These slender blades and open fields tell me something of who I am, and teach me something of what I always hoped to believe: that we belong here, here in this world. Not on Mars or on any other distant planet, awesome as it would be to reach those places. Here, on our own blue and green earth.
MacKenzie mentioned one of these in her latest post and while I’ve linked it there, I always like to promote it a bit more.
Firstly, though, another speech that I read before:
And finally, the best one of all:
(If that link doesn’t work, try this one.)
It’s 100 minutes long but well worth watching.
On Monday, I shamefacedly left an important Blog Squad meeting in order to get to the David Suzuki talk on time. Who knew that it would already be full by the time I got there? My friend and I gazed forlornly at the unfriendly building that refused to have more of us, and then decided to join the sweeping crowds of students who persisted in going in anyway. We all managed to squish inside the Wesbrook hall, mostly by sitting on the stairs. No doubt it was a fire hazard, but it was worth it.
Now, I only went to the David Suzuki talk because Stephen Lewis mentioned him with great respect, and I like Stephen Lewis. And David Suzuki seems to be famous. I didn’t really know who Stephen Lewis was before I went to the SLC either — I always feel like I’ve heard his name before that but don’t remember how — but he’s famous, and other people are excited about him, so curiosity gets the best of me and I go to listen to famous people.
David Suzuki talked about the internment of Japanese-Canadians during WWII, about the role of genetics and civil rights, and his views on the role of science and universities. It was interesting, and nowhere near as bad or as pretentious as I had feared it might be (having been warned by Genevieve beforehand). It was really quite good and I enjoyed it. (Though not as much as Stephen Lewis.)
Yesterday, the debate, “Does God Exist?”, was also overflowing by the time I could spare myself to go. I managed to get into a room with a screen where I ate my last-minute chicken sandwich dinner from Hubbards in peace.
The debate itself was alright. There were a couple of new points I hadn’t heard of on the theistic side, and I thought the theologian made a good showing. He argued most of his points very well. When talking about other religions, however, he wasn’t so strong. For example, he said the Qu’ran was filled with mostly wild inaccuracies and mythological exaggerations, or something like that (without ever providing any evidence to support the point). This triggered a collective “ohhh” of disapproval in my room; it didn’t seem right for someone who demands respect for his religion to speak in a less than respectful manner of another religion, even if he doesn’t agree with it.
To my disappointment, the atheist — who doesn’t seem to know if he’s an agnostic or an atheist, or if he does, didn’t bother coming up with a valid argument as to why we should not be arguing over terminology and instead settled for evading the attack — didn’t do nearly as well. He tried to use humour, but humour doesn’t sustain weak arguments. He never once presented a concrete argument for why God doesn’t exist, only that the arguments for God’s existence are too weak. But I could easily conclude that I don’t know and that God may or may not exist. He seemed to be taking a leap of faith in believing that God’s non-existence is the more reasonable option. There were some theistic points he could have jumped on and attacked more thoroughly — like the claim that historians (using rhetoric that implies the general community) agree that the Bible is a historically accurate document, far more so than the Qu’ran. I wish they’d got a better atheist to argue; it would have been a fairer debate.