Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Grey Foggy Valley

Over the past week a pall of smokey haze has hung over the river valley. There is continual smell of smoke in the air and the images of the river are also swathed in this haze. This leads me to contemplate issues of pollution, responsibility and something that has become apparent in Brisbane's spectrum of weather, a lack of wind.

The river is consistently glassy and so smooth that the river bank vegetation flourishes, mirrored in the water's flatness. Each day it's beautiful, a beauty that is breathtaking. In this dazzling riverscape the absense of wind is hardly noticed. But when pollution hovers above and within the valley, the absense of wind is apparent.

Breath. Breeze. Zephyr. Wind. Blustery. Stormy. Gale.

The weather pundits say that the pollution will blow away when the wind comes - but away where? Attitudes like this abnegate responsibility. Instead of relying on the wind to blow the pollution away, why not limit or halt the source of pollution in the first place? A 'wait for the wind' perspective is another example of the 'out of sight, out of mind' attitude towards environmental degradation.

The word for wind in many cultures is directly related to the word for breath and spirit. In-spir-ation. Re-spir-ation. It's also evident in the spiritual beliefs of children. In a study of children from diverse religious backgrounds by Robert Coles (1990) found that many hold an animistic perception, that nature is alive and has feelings. They also believe that nature has a religious dimension and several describe their experiences of ‘the spirit’ or ‘the voice of God’ or ‘Allah’ as floating on the wind.

The connections are sublime: human-nature-spirit, wrapped as one.

Coles R, 1990 The Spiritual Life of Children. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.