Biodiversity is a Universal issue

Color upon Color
Photograph & Copyright Barbara Mattio 2017

Scientists will tell you that diversity is not limited to humans. There are more invertebrates on this planet than vertebrates. Shocking, yes, to us lay people. Scientists have known this for quite a while. We believe that the pretty and large mammals are the really important ones on the Mother Earth.

Size doesn’t indicate importance. Science has described at least 990,040 species of invertebrates. The estimate of vertebrates is around 42,580 species. Quite a difference. One of the difference is that invertebrates are smaller and have many small niches to settle into.

In truth, if humans were to disappear tomorrow, scientists and conservationists believe the world would go on without much change. Gaia, the totality of life on Earth, would set about healing itself and return to the rich environmental states of 100,000 years ago. But if invertebrates were to disappear, it is unlikely that humans could last more than a few months. Most of the fish, amphibians, birds and mammals would crash to extinction about the same time. Next would go the bulk of the flowering plants and with them the physical structure of the majority of the forests and the terrestrial habitats of the world. The soil would rot. As dead vegetation piled up and dried out, narrowing and closing the channels of the nutrient cycles, other complex forms of vegetation would die off, and with them the last remaining vertebrates.

The remaining fungi would enjoy a population explosion and then would also perish. Within a few decades the world would return to the state of a billion years ago, composed primarily of bacteria, algae and a few very simple multicellular plants.

All of the life here on Mother Earth is interdependent on each other and even though the human ego and want of power adds blinders to our eyes. In reality, we do not own nature, we are the stewards of Gaia and if we do not follow the basic laws that benefit all, life as we know it will end.

No one owns the World. Not governments or countries. Not the East or the West. Not the scientists or the nay sayers. Not the conservationists or the lay people. Gaia belongs to all, to humans, birds, flowers, trees, ants, frogs, bacteria, viruses and fungi. All of these forms of life form our lives as we know them.



A profusion of orchids Photograph and Copyright by Barbara Mattio 2017

Another War is Taking Lives

Give us peace

We are now, once again dealing with another war on our planet. There is pain and death and blood and despair. Palestine and Israel are fighting. More accurately Hamas and Israel. Hamas has been shooting rockets into Israel. Now Israel is defending herself. This is of course, an over-simplification.

I am not writing to take sides. I am writing because Adonai’s children, Allah’s children, are killing each other again. Many women and children are being left homeless and injured or dead. Diplomacy and compromise is what will bring peace to our world. Not war. War teaches people to hate. It teaches people to hate who and what has hurt them.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization. They say Jews are the enemy yet they launch missiles from sites next to the homes of innocent Palestinian people. A returning missile could totally destroy this home, but Hamas continues to use civilians as human shields — a policy which is against both international law and all the laws of common decency.

Not that Israel is blameless.  There are those who believe that Hamas is defending itself, and all Palestinians, against what they see as an unjust occupation.  I am not going to argue that point, on either side.  That is not what needs to be done here; there are many who can argue either side more eloquently than I can.

What I am going to argue is peace.  We cannot continue to fight one another, to hurt one another, to kill one another.  We cannot continue to destroy each other, and this planet, with our hatred of the mythical “others”.  We must learn that we are children of this Earth. We are brothers and sisters, all children of Adonai, of Allah, of The Beloved, The One from which we all come. We are all the same, we are all One, like the One who created us, who watches over us, who gives us peace, and wants us to have peace.

Peace is in our power, but we have to want it and we have to work for it.  The most important work we can do is to just love each other, whatever our religion, appearance, language, or  national origin.

“Maybe it can change, only if you want…

Don’t blame yourself, don’t blame me

but we’re the ones

who can feed this ground

so this poison tree doesn’t grow again.”

Point of No Return;  Duran Duran

Being Human

Waves, Myrtle Beach, Photo by Barbara Mattio

Praise to You, O God,

Let us imagine a world without color, without regal red or leafy green, a world that bores the eye with grey

Praise to You, O God for all the colors in the rainbow, for eyes that are made for seeing, and for beauty that “is its own excuse for being.”

Let us imagine a world without sound, a world where deathly silence covers the earth like a shroud.

Praise to You, O God, for words that speak to our minds, songs that lift our spirits, and all those souls who know how to listen.

Let us image a world without order, where no one can predict the length of the day or the flow of the tide. Imagine a universe where planets leave their orbits and soar like meteors through the heavens, and where the law of gravity is repealed at random.

Praise to You, O God, for the marvelous order of nature, from stars in the sky to particles in the atom.

Let us image a world without love, a world in which the human spirit, incapable of caring, is locked in the prison of the self.

Praise to You, O God, for the capacity to feel happiness in another’s happiness and pain in another’s pain.

As the universe whispers of a oneness behind all that is, so the love in the human heart calls on people everywhere to unite in pursuit of those ideals that make us human.

As we sing of One God, we rejoice in the wonder of the universe and pray for that day when all humanity will be one.

–Rabbi Henry Cohen

The color of Earth; Photo by Barbara Mattio

Singing the Blues; New Orleans; Photo by Barbara Mattio

Mellow Yellow Monday All Day

Sunflower grown by my daughter, Elizabeth. Photograph by Barbara Mattio

Wild Geese

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—-over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

————-Mary Oliver

Life is not a Hallmark card and there are times we get to the edge of the cliff. We are weighed down with grief, loss, confusion and feel lost. The entire world is looking for us. We have much to live for and we need to immerse ourselves in the full experience that is awaiting us. Our humanity is what is waiting and we can walk tall and respond to the call of the world.

This human life is frail and we miss many simple acts of kindness and compassion. There are days when someone speaking kindly to us at the bookstore is what gets us through. So I believe that each day that is not a struggle for us is a day for random acts of kindness. The thoughtful gesture, the person who looks us in the eyes and really “sees” us, the brush of a hand, a human hand that reminds us we do really exist. Be the stranger who reminds someone that they are part of the human family.

Photo by Barbara Mattio

My View of Divinity

Our Hearts Should Do This More

I sit the the streets with the homeless

My clothes stained with the wine
From the vineyards the saints tend.

Light has painted all acts
The same color

So I sit around and laugh all day
With my friends.

At night if I feel a divine loneliness
I tear the doors off Love’s mansion

And wrestle God onto the floor.

He becomes so please with Hafiz
And says,

Our hearts should do this more”.

Hafiz (c, 1317-1389) is widely recognized as the preeminent master of the Persian ghazal form. He writes in the tradition of Rumi, one of the great Sufi poets.

Hafiz is one of the eastern poets who wrote ecstatic poetry. His poetry includes concepts such as loving God so much you become drunk on the experience of the Divine love. I think this is the God I have experienced in my life. This God can not be confined in buildings, experiences life through us, does not only love one type of people. This God has no gender and is bigger than the Universe. This experience we call God is everywhere and is not capable of hate. It is within every sentient being on this planet and even within it. Which is why we are remiss in our ravaging of our planet and we will be the beings which pay the highest price.

I am a spiritual person and have studied the major religions of the world. I have no feelings of “I am right and if you believe differently, you are wrong”. I do know that experiencing the love of God is the best high in the world and it is the best aspect of my humanity. I suggest that you sit down and close your eyes and think only about loving the Divinity in the world. I can say that it is a life-changing experience.