The usual props of daily life have fallen away. Routines are disrupted, or exploded into bits. Not only the outward structures of work, travel, shopping, exercise, meals, and family that provide a container for regular life, but our inner structures, too, have been disrupted. What is left?

In ordinary times, we are shaped and held by the structures and routines that surround us. We even allow ourselves to be defined by them. But when those routines and structures fall away, who am I?

At its worst, this disruption leaves us adrift, without anchor. When a tempest whips everyday life into waves that tower and break over us and seas that rage beneath us, we feel tossed about like matchsticks. We can be broken, or drowned. What do we do?

What is the ground, when everything is upside down?

As my life is turned upside down and inside out, I come back to rest on three props.

One prop, of course, is the woods. Nature generally, and these woods in particular. This land (and the whole cosmos of which this is a tiny part) will endure. Even if these woods pass away (hopefully long after I do), the vital power of Earth and Rain, Sun and Soil will continue. Even with whatever climate change and coronavirus may throw at us, Life goes on.

Another prop is the people I love, and who love me. I am blessed to have so many loves. I cannot count them all, nor would I want to. All are kin, bound together by Love.

Beneath and throughout these, of course, is Love itself. We call it by many names. It is from Love that the woods have been created. It is by Love that people have been born. It is of Love that I am begotten and have my being. It is to Love that (God willing) I will return.

Love, in the end, is stronger than death. Love is what holds me — and you. No matter what comes.

From the poustinia ~


Stephen Blackmer

Stephen Blackmer is founding executive director of Kairos Earth and chaplain of Church of the Woods. Steve comes to this with 30 years of conservation experience, having founded and built conservation organizations including the Five Rivers Conservation Trust, Northern Forest Alliance and Northern Forest Center.

A midlife shift led him to Yale Divinity School and ordination as a priest in the Episcopal Church, carrying the question in his heart and mind: “How can being a priest deepen my work to conserve the Earth? What does the Christian tradition have to offer to this work? How can the Christian tradition be re-understood and re-imagined in a time of need? How can the conservation movement recover its understanding of the Earth as holy ground?