Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Having been enthralled like many millions by the Harry Potter series, I also became ensnared by children and young adult literature. Today I finished reading Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm set in Zimbabwe in the year of 2194. It is an intriguing future world intermixing such things as: evil genetically engineered blue monkeys; a wasteland being mined for rare plastic; a sequestered preserve in the middle of a bustling city with no modern technology; a mile-high building which is a vertical city in itself and spirits of ancestors, animals and the land. The characters of this delightful book are just as varied and colorful, but, dear reader, you can read more about that yourself by reading the link provided.

What I am most interested in discussing right now is spirits. In the book the living are constantly aware of the spiritual realm. Most important of all the spirits was the mhondoro: the lion spirit or spirit of the land. Everyone living in Zimbabwe belonged to the mhondoro, every creature that had ran, ate, played, hunted, loved and died on the land belonged to the mhondoro.

How many of us now are trying to reconnect with such a spirit in whichever land we call home? No matter how sleek our architecture or how powerful our artificial intelligence we all need to feel connected to the very essence of life in some way. Some of us only need to dig into the moist earth and foster growth, others need to explore the oceans, others pound into dough like their grandmother before them, others may hike trails or search for another bird and still others surround themselves in the sounds, motions and rituals of devotion and worship. What they all search for is a sense of belonging. Belonging necessitates relationships--a sense of community and participation in something greater than the individual.

I am a practical and dubious person when it comes to spirituality and the unexplained, or at least I was. Still, I am moved by more than the tangible. It took generations to create a modern life. Perhaps those before us linger and matter more than we realize. With each person we encounter we imprint a bit of ourselves on them--some more than others. We never know the full impact of a life: how we inspire another and what our words, actions or mere presence means.

It is strange to imagine, dear reader, that your life may impart such significance well into the future...that your spirit joins those before you and will be joined by those following you.

P.S. When I was searching for images using "spirit" as my keyword, I discovered this hauntingly beautiful photograph by Diane Varner (click on link to see the photo). Enjoy clicking through the rest of her photography of nature.

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