Letters to Share, March - April 2017

“What canst thou say” about spirit-led efforts on behalf of Earth in relation to the vision of Quaker Earthcare Witness? 

Hello,

A few years ago on a lovely summer morning, I was resting after a workout on a park bench. As I looked up into the leafy brocade above my head, I began to see patterns and sky rivers opened up in between where leaves on one tree ended and another began, in that negative space filled with blue sky.

I was so mesmerized and transported by this I began, with the help of my partner, Steve Soblick, on the technical end of things, to photograph this stand of Linden Trees in that park, Fort Tryon’s Linden Terrace, for over a year during the equinox and solstice of each season. Always greeting the early morning light, we began to become as familiar with the under canopy as we would the topography of a map.

This became the basis for an installation called, “Look Up! Visions from Under the Canopy.” The images and video from under the canopy of linden trees through all seasons will be projected on a screen hung parallel to the ceiling in the 15th St. Meeting House meeting room. People will view it by lying down on the carpeted floor or on a bench. Individual still tree portraits arranged in a mandala-like formation will be off to the side for people to use as visual meditation aids.  The Common Room will host concurrent screening of a short documentary featuring naturalist and author, Leslie Day. She speaks about trees and nature from a scientific and personal frame of reference.

This is my message. Interconnection. We are all interconnected and the trees teach us that. They show us how to live. In their tree communities they come to one another’s aid through their roots and fungi underground, ‘social networks.’ 

Amala Lane, Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting, New York

Dear Friends,

I am going to a Legislative Coffee for my Iowa Republican Senator and Representative tomorrow in Grinnell. The incredible overreach of our new Republican-controlled legislature and governor have turned this moderate, common sense Iowa Quaker into a political activist for the first time in my life. It’s not just people on the left that are incensed and motivated to action as the media continually reports. I will ask them probing questions about whether they support a bill that would prevent rural property owners from filing “nuisance” lawsuits against huge animal confinement operations that cause awful air pollution and make it impossible for people to open their windows to get fresh air…We must all get involved in grassroots local activism. I realize that many of you have been doing exactly that for a long time.

Blessings to all in your work for the Earth,
Jim Kessler, Grinnell Friends Church (Iowa Yearly Meeting FUM)