Many of us are hearing Her call, behind the cries of anger, concern and fear that resonate through the Fridays for the Future rallies and other climate strikes: “Listen to Me…”
Such is the Earth’s call that so many of you, if you are reading these words, have listened to and are spreading. Thank you. Thank you for inspiring us and joining us in this journey.
The first big occasion which prompted the creation of the Listening to the Earth Movement was the United Nations Climate Summit, held during the UN General Assembly week, on the 23rd September 2019, in New York.
Myra Jackson and I had the honor and pleasure to go to New York to share this call and invitation to be Listening to the Earth in New York, by guiding the Global Meditation for the Earth, just before the Summit opening, a few blocks away from the Summit itself, in Nature’s Climate Hub.
We had the opportunity to join other members of the Nature-Based Solutions Coalition in various game-changing events. I wish to share some highlights of these precious moments with you and thank you for the waves of support you were sending to what was happening there.
Sunday 22nd September - warming up in the High-Level pre-Climate Summit event on Nature-Based Solutions
On the day before the UN Climate Summit, I attended the High-Level pre-Climate Summit event on Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) thanks to the support of our Advisory Member Elise Buckle who was at the heart of the team led by David Nabarro, which catalyzed support for Nature to be at the heart of Climate negotiations through the “NBS Climate Coalition”. In what is known as the ECOSOC Room in the United Nations Headquarters, a few meters away from the UN General Assembly hall, senior officials from China and New Zealand - the government leads of the NBS stream - paved the way for a 5+ hour long encounter. Time flew by as the co-facilitators of the Nature-Based Solutions workstream, David Nabarro from 4SD and Susan Gardner from the United Nations Environment Programme, energized participants – government officials, senior business leaders, civil society organizations and representatives of indigenous peoples – as they expressed their deep commitment to put Nature at the center of efforts to solve the Climate Crisis.
The closing words by the Honorable Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples from New Zealand, powerfully capture the energy that fueled the event: “Today’s momentum event has been inspiring” he said. “We knew there was tremendous potential for Nature to play its full role in Climate Action and after listening to today’s event, I’m optimistic that the transformative shift of our emissions future is underway.” He quoted the UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohamed: “We’ve picked the fight with Nature and now we have to make peace with it” as well as Sonia Quatevahara, indigenous Amazon speaker who reminded us that “The fight for Mother Earth is the Mother of all fights.” The room smiled as he confessed: “Can I just say I’m young enough to know that Mother always wins, not her children” and expressed his gratitude with by saying “The actions described by all of you today add up to a lot.”
Inspired by the commitment and energy in the room, I would whisper invitations to join the Global Meditation of the Earth which would take place the next morning, sharing flyers with delegates from the official government delegations, civil society organizations, United Nations colleagues. My invitations were invariably welcomed with a smile. I had the opportunity to hand the Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba; a flyer as he left the room, whispering that people from around the world were joining the Summit in “spirit” through this meditation. It was just a second’s-long encounter, but the warmth in his smile as he expressed his thanks made me feel the genuineness of his appreciation for this collective contribution.
Monday 23rd September – The UN Climate Summit and Global Meditation for the Earth
The big day finally arrived. I was swiftly making my way through Grand Central Station to reach Nature’s Climate Hub – the vibrant meeting place for Nature’s advocates during Climate week, which was to host the Meditation – when a beautiful bouquet of peach-colored roses called out to me from a fresh-cut flowers stall. I walked past, but they insisted, so I made my way back to buy the bouquet. “Ah! Good thing you got us”, they told me. “How could you hold a meditation for the Earth without a touch of Nature by your side?”
The flowers were the first thing Myra saw as she walked into the Convene, venue of the Nature’s Climate Hub: “who heard my call to have flowers?!” she asked merrily. Flowers in place, webcam, Facebook Live and microphones set up thanks to Jonathan and the wonderful Convene team, we were ready to go live for the Global Meditation for the Earth.
The central hall of the Hub where a group of participants gathered around us fell into silence: many were already engaged in deep conversations in the meeting rooms around us and James Lloyd, one of the two visionary leaders of the Nature 4 Climate Alliance who made this event possible, invited more to join as he explained why this Meditation was so central to the efforts of the Alliance. “There's real energy here in New York, both in the UN discussions themselves this morning and in the Hub”, he said. “It's incredible the amount of announcements on Nature-based Solutions starting to come through.” We were now ready to complement the moments of announcements with a moment of deep listening.
I had the pleasure to introduce the Listening to the Earth Movement and to greet those joining us on Facebook or in spirit, from Rome, Wisconsin, Assisi, California, Nepal and all over the world, before inviting Myra – whose voice I feel is the voice of Gaia - to guide us into a moment of Listening to the Earth.
“I'm going to take you through on a journey,” she started, “and there's some very specific instructions that I offer you, which come really deep from the Mother.” As Myra guided us to breathe into our “embodied presence”, she invited us to visualize the “wisp of radiance that surrounds the earth”, which is “the liminal space called the biosphere”. (…) “That body is in essence our larger body.” (…) “That is the very space where all of the elements, the elemental power of air, water, earth, space, fire are active. This is where the alchemical dance is happening in our bodies, in the earth, and we're all a part of that.” Myra reminded us that “the intelligence of this larger body is available to us, shaping us, informing us as we bring our minds into a space of peace and fill our hearts of love and apply that connection to the moment we're sharing together.” She then took us into the space of the Climate Summit itself, asking that “we extend by way of our presence, the enabling environment that would help world leaders and the decisions they make that affect all life on the planet, to place at the center of the debate, the wellbeing of the earth.”
Myra concluded by inviting us to the awareness that “in listening to the earth, we open ourselves to the potent, intelligent, creative solutions for our time. It calls upon us to be awake, to be alive, and to mature as a human presence on the planet with true agency to mediate, care and compassion for all life.”
Slowly, we returned to our physical presence in the Hub, with the subtle awareness that a special energy had filled the peaceful room, an energy that was supported by that of the hundreds of individuals who were with us in many corners of the world, and that extended into the United Nations Headquarters, a few blocks away, where the UN Climate Action Summit was opening.
Tuesday 24th September - Discussing the power of intention and affirmations in Nature’s Climate Hub
On Tuesday morning, Myra and I found our peach-colored roses proudly bringing a touch of joyful color in Nature’s Climate Hub’s central gathering place. They somehow found their way around the room during the day - from the small meeting tables, to the buffet area, to trollies, as the venue was rearranged for various events - happily listening and tuning in to the enthusiastic “hum” of the “Hub”.
We continued to sustain the presence of “Listening to the Earth” by holding a small group discussion on “Affirming our connection with the Earth”. The group recognized that the awareness of our connection to the Earth is key, especially for us to be sustained by her power, wisdom and energy, since the fight to protect the environment and address climate change is often an overwhelming and exhausting one. The importance of connecting to others who share this conviction, and supporting each other in listening to the earth, also came forth. We had the honor to be joined by a journalist and cameraman from the Tzu Chi Foundation who featured this encounter in their documentary on Nature’s Climate Hub. Check it out here!
Wednesday 25th September: Celebrating in the Nature’s Climate Hub Closing Rally, in Central Park Zoo
The week’s excitement culminated in the closing rally of Nature’s vibrant Climate Hub on Wednesday evening, in Central Park Zoo. Myra and I had the joy of joining James Lloyd, Elise Buckle and hundreds of friends from the Nature-Based Solutions Coalition in this unusual venue. With the Zoo’s seals cheering us on from their nearby pond, the crowd was galvanized by David Nabarro’s breathtaking and heart-lifting passion and enthusiasm. His energy fueled the commitment and motivation of NBS Coalition members to continue carrying the voice of Nature forward in all climate related efforts. Senior officials from governments (Norway, Costa Rica, Gabon), representatives of indigenous peoples, senior business leaders, youth activists and UN officials tuned into this powerful enthusiasm, all adding their weight to this budding yet already strong movement.
Moments of listening to the Earth were an intrinsic part of the rally: Inger Andersen, Director General of UNEP started her address by inviting us to breath with the awareness of our connection to the air, water and Nature; a representative of indigenous peoples from the Amazon began with a song of communion with the rainforest; even Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, arrived on stage inviting all those who feel alive to stand up, feeling into the energy of aliveness. And many (new) friends came up to Myra and I, expressing support and appreciation for bringing the invitation to be listening to the Earth to New York, encouraging us all to continue bringing energy and attention to Nature’s call for us to return to her.
As the Central Park Zoo closed, Nature’s aficionados were gently ushered back onto the streets of the Big Apple. A buzzing stream of energized activists walked down the streets. No one was sure where we were heading, but we just walked on, carried by the harmony of the group. All were engaged in passionate conversations. I was walking in silence, enjoying their gaiety, taking in the powerful energy of these few days, when I looked up, and noticed the trees that lined the street, their branches hovering above us. They were dancing in the evening breeze. I tuned into their joyful song, feeling their gratitude and encouragements, as their dancing leaves cheered the line of passionate individuals they recognized as friends, friends of the Earth...
It was the time for good-byes. Myra and I parted warmly in a deserted metro station. I found myself sitting in the metro, heading back to Brooklyn where a dear friend was hosting me. I still felt flooded by this powerful, supportive energy. And then I knew, with my whole being, that while Mother Earth – like any good mother – may castigate Her children when they need to learn a lesson, she will also flood them with Her love and protection when they need Her. And while humanity faces daunting challenges in this era of Climate Change, I feel grounded in the knowing that if we listen to our Mother, She will always care for us.
Weaving together her passions for sustainable food systems, yoga and meditation, Charlotte promotes "a soulful approach to sustainable development".
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Myra has enjoyed a diverse array of hefty careers as an Electrical Engineer, Organizational Development Professional, Systems Thinker and Master Trainer.
Elise has worked in the field of sustainable development and climate change for fifteen years; she is highly committed to making this world a better place for people and nature.
The Nature4Climate lead, James is a UK based environmental activist.