Jefferson Almanac
11:56 am
Sat October 1, 2011

Praying For Nature To Behave Better

This column is called “Jefferson Almanac” and in reality there is no state of Jefferson. After a bit of research, I’ve discovered that no one really knows where the word almanac came from. It was first used in England 800 years ago for a document foretelling weather, seasons, tides, moons, sunrises and sunsets, so as to help farmers, hunters and fishermen do their work.

I don’t think they forecast that this would be the year it hardly ever stopped raining, though I do remember climatologists saying that an increase in greenhouse gases would make it a lot wetter and bring extremes of weather disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, fires and tornados — and that seems to be the case. Over 300 twisters in three days in the South? That never happened before.  

An email circulates asking everyone to pray that the record fires in the southwest will be extinguished. My partner Ann promptly forwards it and asks me to also pray. I say no, I don’t ask others to pray to change nature and I don’t pray for God to fix a problem caused by human activity, overpopulation, overproduction, driving big cars and such.

She is miffed, noting that we do create our own reality and that thoughts and prayers have power and humans are becoming more adept at using this power, so use it!  I respond that I do pray and do believe “thought is creative,” so I pray that I am guided by the wisdom and love of divine forces, so that I may walk in balance with nature — not call in God to fix our messes because if our messes get magically fixed, guess what?  We’ll keep making messes.

Maybe this is one of those guy/gal differences.  She is actually getting mad, even disgusted with me refusing to use my supposed mind power to put out conflagrations, as if I’m contributing to human suffering by smugly withholding said power.  I tell her I believe prayer should be used on cause, not effect — and that, since the fire is most probably caused by heedless human ignorance and selfishness, we should pray to become smarter and act in ways that support all life, not just human life, then the fires won’t happen.

But why should God come down and douse the blaze? What would be his motive?  If we are to learn to live in balance with nature, we must suffer the consequences of our misdeeds, right?  We don’t react to supposed dangers till they happen.  That’s human nature.  

By the same token, 41 percent of people feel global warming fears are exaggerated and they aren’t going to pay for programs or drive an electric car to cure warming.  Let’s face it - 300 tornados, record heat and Hurricane Katrina are not enough to rock the average voter’s world.  So it’s warmer.  That’s better than freezing winters, right? 

In the middle of all this, nature gets a lot more personal with a text from a dear friend of ours who went in to see about some symptoms and have a mass removed and it’s turned out to be stage 4 ovarian cancer, so she just got a hysterectomy and, at 50, is facing (according to several websites), about a 10 percent chance of living beyond a few years.

We both immediately text that we are praying for her and putting white light around her and are here to do anything she needs help with — and I do use the power of love and mind and ask the divine powers to join in.  So much for my smug refusal to put out the fire.  

Curious why some people get cancer and others don’t (even if they have unhealthy lifestyles), I find a study that searched for a “cancer personality.”  One sampling finds that “saintly” people who are sweet, thoughtful, generous and conflict-avoiding do tend to get it in larger numbers and that doctors sense this anecdotally, one even predicting a patient was “too mean to get cancer” — and the biopsy proved him right.  Our friend, no saint, doesn’t fit the cancer profile.

I can see Ann is shaken by our friend’s bad turn, as am I.  It can, and does, happen to anyone.  One day I am talking and joking with lifelong marathoner and healthy eater Ric Sayre, 57, as he checks me out at the Ashland Food Co-op and the next day I am reading of his sudden death from heart failure after a morning run.

At Noble Coffee in Ashland, with the headlines about Ric laying on the table in front of us, friend Julie and I shake our heads in wonder. What do we learn from this, we ask.  “That we only have today,” I say. She responds, “We only have this moment.”

In his enigmatic way, Bob Dylan summed it up, singing, “For them who think death’s honesty won’t fall upon them naturally, life sometimes must get lonely.”  Think that one over.