Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Uninvited Fairy

Remember the thirteenth fairy in the story of Sleeping Beauty? At the christening of the baby princess, Brier Rose, twelve gold plates were set out for twelve fairies in the realm, but the queen and king forgot to invite the thirteenth fairy. The forgotten fairy showed up anyway and proclaimed a vengeful promise: before the girl’s sixteenth birthday, she would prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. Horrified, one of the other fairies lightened the curse: the girl would fall asleep until a prince came to kiss her awake.

That thirteenth fairy refused to be forgotten. She would have her say. She would make sure she received her due honor, just like the other fairies.

The damaged places of the Earth are like that uninvited fairy. We try to forget them, but we can’t. Our hearts ache when we hear about animals dying because they can no longer find food. Our sense of beauty is assaulted when we confront clearcut forests. Outrage floods us when we read about toxic debris from mountaintop mining cascading down hillsides to clog valleys and streams and turn people out of their homes. Because the state of the planet pains us, many of us just try to ignore it.

But those places keep hovering in our awareness, just like that forgotten fairy. They remind us that all is not well in the land. They force us to consider what kind of world we’ll be leaving to our grandchildren. And they remain a part of us. We loved them once and we cannot now forget them, even though they are damaged.

After Brier Rose pricked her finger on the spindle she fell asleep, along with all the people in the realm. During the scores of years of collective unconsciousness that followed, many princes tried to make their way through the thickets that surrounded the palace to rescue her. Yet it was not until one particular prince, motivated by love, determined and persistent, managed the difficult journey and kissed her gently that Sleeping Beauty awoke.

Radical Joy for Hard Times recognizes that our neglected lands, waters, and communities are part of the whole living Earth. They demand restitution—not just with projects to restore them in measurable ways, but also with acts and attitudes that acknowledge that they are part of the whole community of the living Earth. In other words, the future of global ecology requires a kiss! We must forgive one another for our previous neglect of the earth, and we must reawaken those damaged places with acceptance, love, and beauty.

Then no part of the Earth will be left out of the story.