It’s 90 degrees, the warmest day of the year so far in California’s Central Valley. The only beach, if you can call it that, in the park is adjacent to the spot where I often take my sittings. Two little girls, full of mirth and joy, play in the sand and shallows as I make a journal entry after meditating.
Next to the path is a small bench where people sometimes sit and watch their kids play in the water. I often write a page there before going for a walk or run.
A few weeks ago, when the creek was a white-capping torrent after a week of rain, I passed two women engrossed in conversation on the bench while a solitary little girl waded into the water up to her knees 25 meters away. Seeing the danger, I said, ‘don’t let her get swept downstream.’ They gave me a look, but so what, the danger was real.
Today the creek is down enough to pose no danger to the little girls. Indeed, people have already made a pool by damming up that section of stream with a low wall of rocks. The little girls’ mother, in de rigueur black, sits in the shade on her cell phone.
I wave at the girls as they run back and forth from the water to the sand, and they give a friendly hello without missing a beat of their play. Presently they lie down in the sand and begin rolling about, hilariously covering themselves completely in mud before running back into the water.
The stream still flows fairly strongly in other places. The water is chilly but not cold. When you lie down in it, as I did after my run today, the current sweeps you downstream until you stop yourself by letting your feet rest against the rocks, or hook your hands around a couple of stones.
The sensory, emotional and spiritual feelings while fully immersed, the chilly water rippling over your skin while you silently watch, with ears underwater, the breeze flutter the leaves overhead, is as close to heaven as one can come on earth.
It’s been over six months since I’ve been able to take dip. I talked with a small group of guys from Alaska a few weeks ago that braved the still cold and fast current at the beach. “This is summer up there,” one said amusingly, before adding, “or it used to be…last year we had temps in the 90’s.”
When even good ole boys from Alaska cite climate change in a friendly exchange, you know there’s a clear and present danger. Notwithstanding extreme right wing denial (which currently predominates in America), one’s worldview isn’t a matter of whether one is conservative or progressive.
It comes down to whether one continues to believe, against overwhelming evidence, that the currents in the world are toward global identity and integration, and that they will prove stronger over time than tribalism and nativism.
Can those who see the rapid erosion of the human spirit, the destruction of diversity on earth and between people, and the growing crisis of consciousness turn the tide?
Perhaps, but time is the enemy. As much as I admire Martin Luther King, he was mistaken when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” On the other hand, the Stones, of all people, were right in having the devil say, “Time is on my side.”
That isn’t to say things can’t radically change. They can. But they are not gradually improving, and thinking in terms of time prevents meeting the unprecedented crisis humanity faces on all fronts.
In a meditative state, which is essentially a state of being in which the mind and brain are beyond time, seeing those little girls playing felt like more than a simple blessing. It seemed a confirmation of benediction.
Even if a few were able to ignite the revolution in consciousness that finally changes the disastrous course of humankind, without bringing that benediction, it would have little meaning.