Everything Is Broken

“Everything is broken, yet much remains.” ~ Stone Person

There’s this atheist Australian comedian I really love named Tim Minchin. He’s funny and vulgar and smart, but he also annoys me. He has this energy that is common among atheists (not all atheists, to be clear) of disdain for anything that hasn’t been thoroughly validated and proven by the current modern scientific method, and published in peer reviewed journals.

Which is fine as far as it goes, and I don’t begrudge him his materialist view of the world.

It’s just that as much as I value the modern scientific method and all that it has given us, it is not the only way of knowing things, and it is limited by its ability to test only a very tiny fraction of the potential observations that we may have of the world. Which does not discredit its validity, but those who choose to believe only what the scientific method has gotten around to testing and validating are severely limiting their ability to experience and enjoy the universe.

Again, I don’t begrudge them this, but disdain for those of us who choose multiple methods of interacting with our universe is misplaced.

Anyway, we were listening to some of Tim Minchin’s Youtube videos on the way up to Dragon Hollow yesterday. When we got there, we got out and tended to the blueberry bushes I planted a few years ago near the road, and then hiked up to Margaret Meadow and beyond, to Mossy Meadow and the Weaver’s Rock. Along the way, we played on a natural swing, ate wild strawberries, and listened to species of birds that you don’t commonly hear in the city.

On our way back down the trail, we collected stones for my garden.

When I do this, I state my intention to the land, and ask it to make visible any stones that wish to come with me. It always provides abundantly.

At one point, I reached down to take a stone that had been made visible, and it crumbled when I tried to pick it up.

There is a teaching among those who believe in the sentience of everything, that the stones hold ancient earth wisdom, and that one that breaks open is ready to reveal a message. I believe this teaching, though there are no scientifically validated peer-reviewed studies proving it beyond reasonable doubt.

So I stopped what I was doing, placed my hand on the crumbled rock, and waited.

Have I told you what it is like to commune with a tree? It is much the same with the stones. There is a universal language that runs through the very fiber of beingness that is at the core of everything. Trees speak it, spiders speak it, rivers speak it, stones speak it. Most peoples who live close to the earth know of it. The Seneca call it Hail-lo-way-ain. 

Anyone can speak it. You already speak it, perhaps without knowing. It’s that still, quiet voice that seems to come from outside yourself, intuition, knowing, messages, or just a sense of peace from who-knows-where that comes upon you unexpectedly, especially when walking in natural areas where you can better hear the voices of other earth beings.

The more you listen, the more you will hear.

The stone spoke.

“Everything is broken. Yet much remains.”

That was the message. I thanked the Old One and went on my way.

Later, the kids and I drove a couple miles down the road to this magical place where the National Forest stretches out a finger and touches the road, right where a natural beach with a swimming hole has formed on Mulberry Creek. Where yellow swallowtail butterflies circle up in a spiral from a granite rock face, which is accessible only by water and provides a quiet sunning spot for human and snake swimmers alike.

We grabbed our lunch and our little play kayaks and headed down to the water. At bottom, quite a sight greeted us. The pristine white sand-and-pebble beach was littered with chip bags, beer cans, a broken fishing pole, and no less than a half dozen mean, multi-barbed fishing hooks left carelessly in the sand. A short way down the trail were the remains of a “catch”–several half-gutted and rotting fish, flies crawling in their jellied eyes; caught, killed, left.

And there were cigarette butts in the crystalline water.

Fury doesn’t even describe it. The righteous anger was momentary, however, as the “words” of the stone came back to me.

Everything is broken, yet much remains.

The kids and I gathered up the trash and put it in bags. We collected the fish hooks, patrolling the beach carefully and placing the six we found in a plastic bait container before placing it in the trash bags.

I can’t fix the brokenness of those people. I can’t fix whatever it is in humankind that demands the beauty of nature and then shits on it as though it were worse than worthless.

I can’t prove that stones speak or that everything has a soul–the fish, the snake, the spiders, the land, the trees, the stones, the sand, the river, the butterflies.

All I can do is take my old body out into the sun and sing.

After I’ve cleaned up the garbage and said a prayer over a gutted fish, of course.

Everything is broken, my friends. You cannot fix it all. But is there a little something you can fix right where you are? And can you take your old body out into the morning and sing?