For fifty years, we human beans have been celebrating Earth Day.
May the fiftieth one be one to remember.
This has everything to do with cats, naturally. Cats are closer to the earth (and perhaps to heaven, and definitely to reality) than we are; some say they can sense earthquakes and tumults of all types.
They don’t need a holiday or a reminder or a pandemic to delight in the ground beneath their feet. (Exhibit A: Anka the eternal outdoorsman.) They know, without having to hear the impassioned protests of the young or the encyclicals of the wise, that the earth itself is precious, sacred, a thing to be loved and danced upon with devotion.
I wouldn’t presume to say that, given the choice, cats would choose reusable bags and put solar panels on their homes. (You know and I know that Archer would drive an enormous SUV, and Luna could never be trusted to shut the light off upon leaving a room.)
But in their bones, made of the same dust and stardust as earth and swans and sardines and you and me, they know what we forget.
We live on and in and with a miracle.
Even now. Especially now.
This milestone Earth Day finds us all a little closer to the soil than we might choose. Most of our lives, we can pretend we’re pure thought and feeling, souls on sticks whose most important work has no physical form. But when all the delightful distractions are closed and our bodies force themselves to the top of our minds, we remember — like it or not — that we are creatures as much of the earth as of the sky.
I’ve felt this keenly in these days of not-continuously-splendid isolation. I suspect you have, too. Seldom before has it been so satisfying, so grounding — earth-ing — to bury my fingers and my overwhelmed face in the coat of my Dibbles (Tabby’s Place class of 2006). My hands have been moved to trembling, my eyes to tears, by the beautiful, swiftly aging face of his sister Pippa (Tabby’s Place class of 2007). They draw me to the very present sunshine, to the pink tulips just outside, to my own mortality and the preciousness of this tender, embodied life.
It would be no overstatement to say that cats and tulips are saving my days right now, as much if not more so than social media and books by Dorothy Day and the too-many thoughts that are liable to float off like overfilled hot air balloons (emphasis on the hot air) without some grounding.
And the earth is always, gently, patiently waiting beneath our feet.
No matter how we’ve wounded it, no matter how many of its splendors we’ve spurned, it waits to hold us steady again, a swiftly turning prayer.
Much has been written of the physical world’s mending since the world went into hibernation. It seems that quiet, quarantined humans are good for the ground and water and air; our season of solitude is giving creation the chance to sigh and stretch and heal.
It’s a chance to pause, to grow more catlike. But for now, it’s just that: a chance.
We will be frantic again; we will forget the tulips; we will trample the ground that holds us so tenderly. But maybe, this time, we will remember more quickly. We will ask forgiveness. We will live more gently. The new normal will bring new tenderness from our side.
If this season of great strangeness succeeds in grounding us, getting us home to ourselves and the home we share, this will have been a very grand Earth Day indeed.
Now we just need to work on Archer.