Dark Gift of Watershed Issues

Dark Gift of Watershed Issues

If life were a current, we have reached a rapids on land use issues in the Napa Valley. As above, so below: how to view these outer issues in a “so below”, inner context?  These issues are also a microcosm of what is happening on our earth. Perhaps the dark gift of these times is the urgency to enter the arena of what impacts us so intimately and struggle with what we tend to polarize. (We have gotten a very clear picture in Congress with how effective polarization is in getting anything done!)

Land use issues are watershed issues in the Napa Valley, at least when it comes to the incursion of residences, vineyards, and wineries into our hillsides and forests. Watersheds are something many of us have been unconscious of, and yet, they are the bloodstreams of the county, and of the state, and of the earth. Like a good mother, they are so large and effective they are invisible until they are depleted and not working. Their maintenance is critical to the health of the ecology they are part of.

It is so easy to want to polarize and demonize the other side, regardless of which side you are on. And yet, watersheds are our common ground and they are uncompromising! They remind us we are of one piece. If we exploit them through ignorance and/or greed, through deforestation for vineyards and homes,  and by ignoring the importance of riparian corridors which replenish ground water, we do so at our own peril. Rich or poor, we all need water.

Facing the importance of watersheds means developing a respect for the needs of watersheds— and of water. It means caring about the earth, being sensitive to soils and creeks, being open to viewing oneself as only a part of a community that includes soils and creeks, oak woodlands and fir forests. It goes beyond the idea of stewardship, which is really only a kinder version of “dominion over”.  We need to be in relationship with our lands, and all that resides there. This requires a consciousness that is receptive to even the sentience of water and nature.

In November I attended a Future First conference in Minneapolis which drew up a Bill of Rights for water. The link will take you to the result, which is well worth reading. Yes, it is a new paradigm (to use that overused word!), but it is the consciousness that may allow us to partner with nature to survive on our planet. It is the consciousness often needed when people come into analysis in later years, and ego stances no longer work. It is time then to listen to Self, to that which is larger and interconnected with the whole web of life. We need to develop this capacity to listen and to feel ourselves in that web, and to learn to serve it.

That is, perhaps, the dark gift in these watershed issues.