Editorial & Introduction to Issue #26:
An Epic in the Making
by Lauren de Boer
Summer, 1997, p. 3
The sacred can emerge in surprising places. If you've ever walked
a labyrinth, you likely have a sense of the inner peace and quieting of
the mind that can come to you from the experience of this medieval form
of healing meditation.
Early this June, California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco became
the first hospital in the nation to install a labyrinth as part of its
healing mission. This labyrinth's sacred geometry was patterned after one
laid in the floor of France's Chartres Cathedral 800 years ago by Benedictine
I find this link between modern medicine and the sacred intriguing. Even
more interesting -- in the context of this issue of EarthLight --
were the comments by the president of the medical center: "I come from
a background steeped in Western science," he said, "so I was skeptical.
Now I have to say my skepticism was entirely wrong."
This man had walked the paths of the labyrinth and felt his financial worries
for the medical center slip away. And he observed hospital staff, family
members of patients, and people from the neighborhood all walking the labyrinth
and finding healing and peace. Worldviews shift. Skepticism can lead to
critical thinking -- and this is important, too. But when someone allows
themselves a suspension of the rational workings of the western mind long
enough to let in other ways of being and knowing, a kind of healing can
This issue of EarthLight explores what might happen were
we to integrate other ways of knowing with the scientific one which has
so shaped our cultural worldview. But it also explores what might happen
were we to bring science into the service of life, instead of death, consumerism,
and technologies with global reach at the expense of the local.
Central to this exploration is the Epic of Evolution. In a workshop
I participated in two summers ago with poet/philosopher Gary Snyder, he
made a statement which gave me a sense that I would never lack for work
as someone who loves language. He said that putting the scientific evolutionary
story into epic form is a labor which will not be accomplished in our lifetime,
and that it is the most important work of poets and writers today.
And that's only work for the wordsmiths among us. The Epic of Evolution
is being brought into play by theologians, scientists, native peoples,
farmers, artists, musicians, teachers, and many others. One needn't be
one of the world's great minds to be part of it-that's more than covered
today. What's needed more, is to concentrate on being one of the world's
great souls by entering into the profound mysteries surrounding us.
My encouragement to those who want to live this new story is to find a
way of bringing it into your everyday life. Feel the magic of holding a
child, comforting someone in pain by hearing their story, or tasting the
sensuous wonder of a fresh garden tomato. Find out what energizes you and
share it. Others may play with it, and then go off in an entirely new direction.
That's the way life plays itself into existence, according to Margaret
Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers (pages 8-9). Mathematical cosmologist
and physicist Brian Swimme tells his story of leaving his world as a regular
university scientist to help guide others into the magnificence of the
Universe. Geologist and educator Jody Bourgeois writes about bringing the
sacred dimensions of science into the classroom. Religion and philosophy
professor Loyal Rue shows us how the Epic gives him a grounding and deepening
of an environmental ethic.
And then there's the turn to the local with Keith Helmuth's wonderful stories
of toads, North Hill Farm, and a mill. There's a gem of a meditation on
community supported agriculture and the cosmic story, and finally, the
uplifting example of a town in Australia revitalized by co-ops, a credit
union, and community.