Please enjoy this blog post from guest writer and Sangha member Denise Williams.
In 1969, as a child I still remember the stench of the oil spill on the beaches in Santa Barbara that marked the start of Earth Day. The next year, people gathered downtown for a teach-in on Anapamu Street, named after the Chumash word for where the hill gently rises. They met on the US Senate proposed date of April 22nd to celebrate the Earth.
This year, early in the morning of Earth Day, our Florida Keys Satellite Sangha leader, Dr. Ellen Booth Church, began our practice together by Zoom reminding us that, “Everyday is Earth Day.” Practicing, I felt through the floorboards to the hard dry clay that holds up my little home and further to the tree roots and living soil, beneath the magnolias and redwoods that replaced hard cement here in the heart of Los Angeles decades ago.
Then I got in a 2005 Hybrid Honda Civic and practiced on the road with Lopön Charlotte Rotterdam and Pieter Oosthuizen’s Earth Day Livestream as I traveled to learn Sahaja from Lama Tsultrim. Over the day, I checked in with my master gardening instructor in Boyle Heights about garden soil testing, and how to advise parents in Santa Barbara County to ensure they and their kids wear gloves when planting native oak tree seedlings. I’ve been caring about acorns and their difficult struggle to become mighty oak trees since 1969, but this year, with the help of a little Honda, throughout April and into May, hundreds of native oak tree seedlings have found new caring homes, instead of being weeded from under their mother tree.
When Siddhartha chose to sit under a Bodhi tree and focus his meditation practice, Mara arose to question him. He touched the ground in his answer, and the whole Earth vibrated, celebrating his enlightenment, as he responded, “The Earth is my witness.” Everyday is indeed Earth Day, as we touch and nurture real and symbolic connections with our mother Earth. She is our ever present witness, an amazing mentor, embracing each of us as we may reflect the ground of being in every atom in us, under our feet and across the sky. As she catches us, holds us, and breathes life into us, she reminds us that we are all her enlightened children.
About Denise Williams
Denise Williams began meditating when she was 9, and soon fell in love with Tibet and the Dalai Lama. She received her PhD in Sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara and has worked in mediation since 1984. She began studying with Lama Tsultrim and Tara Mandala in 2019. When she grows up she wants to become a writer.