An Invitation to Attentiveness and Imagination

By Thomas Lowe Fleischner the rim of this capstone mesa, the valley spreads before me. Beyond, a new edge rises up—one of the great transitional escarpments of the continent: the Mogollon Rim, which stretches 200 miles across Arizona and New Mexico. Where the Sonoran Desert interpenetrates with the Colorado Plateau, where species of the Rocky Mountains (a few 12,000 foot peaks shimmer in the distance) meet grasses from the Great Plains, where north meets south, where Canada greets Mexico, where the coast meets the dry interior. This wild mosaic of life-forms matters to me, utterly and completely. But does it ask anything of me?

A gentle lover, it really asks nothing. But it does assert. It asserts its very presence as an exemplar of diversity—of greater diversity than any Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York. But also, slowly, quietly, it will assert—without a trace of negotiation—what humans can and cannot do, how we can live, who can live. Do we listen?  Mostly no. And so that is our primary task—to pay attention. To listen to the thrumming of this insect chorus. To notice that one lichen, pale green, festoons this particular chunk of pale granite, while the next rock, one stride further, hosts three types—brilliant chartreuse and gray, in addition to the green. To stop and notice when a flock of Western Bluebirds wafts in on the autumn wind, cheeping brightly among themselves, roosting briefly in the junipers, then alighting once again into the blue air, gone. And to really see that Arizona sky—so brazenly, starkly, uninhibitedly blue.

By attending to the miracles of life that surround and include us, we merge with the sense of creation. And along the way we might just notice a thing or two about how to live—find shade in summer, share resources, serve and be served by Others.

The Earth is. It reflects. It makes asking and answering possible. But does it ask anything of us?

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