Terraphilia n. An intrinsic affection for and connection to the Earth and its community of lives. Without this connection we are lonely, lacking, no longer whole. (My late husband, sculptor Richard Cabe and I coined the word to describe what motivates our work and our lives.)
It seems to me that many of us feel lost, bereft–as if something essential, something we deeply need is lacking from our lives. I think that what we’re missing is an everyday connection with nature, the home of our species.
We like to think we are above belonging to the messy stew of wild relationships that birthed Homo sapiens. But that community is part of who we are, from the myriad microorganisms that help our bodies function to the plants that respire in tandem with our breaths, exhaling the oxygen we breathe in and absorbing the carbon dioxide we exhale. We may have forgotten nature, but the community of the land has not forgotten us. Every day, the other species around us go about their lives in our company. It’s often no harder to get to know them than it is our human neighbors, and it’s just as enlightening. Better still, it weaves us into the fabric of nature, and brings us home.
I believe that people have a positive role to play in the community of the land, even if we’ve forgotten it. And I believe that life itself is numinous, charged with spiritual power. As a Quaker, I try to live what I believe. Hence my vocation: healing our relationship with this blue planet by rekindling our terraphilia. Bringing awareness of and appreciation for our innate kinship with nature–and the responsibilities and blessings that entails–home to our daily lives.