THE BRANDT SERIES: SACRED EARTH COMMUNITY & THE GRAND UNIVERSE
weekly photo challenge: grand community
Introducing the Brandt Series –
Earth as sacred commons
Photography by Charles A.E. Brandt & quotes by Thomas Berry (1914 –2009)
“The Universe story is the quintessence of reality. We perceive the story. We put it in our language, the birds put it in theirs, and the trees put it in theirs. We can read the story of the Universe in the trees. Everything tells the story of the Universe. The winds tell the story, literally, not just imaginatively. The story has its imprint everywhere, and that is why it is so important to know the story. If you do not know the story, in a sense you do not know yourself; you do not know anything.”
Some of us have gotten to know one another, so I’ll tell you a story . . .
Numerous fellow bloggers will relate to being brought up within the Catholic faith. The 1960’s blew in with winds of change – for the church and the world at large.
An unusual and auspicious event occurred when I was eight years old at the Canadian Martyrs Church, where I served as an altar boy for many years.
I don’t remember the event specifically . . . though it helped to form me in ways I could never imagine.
It was 1966 and Charles Brandt (the man who took these photos) was ordained to the Catholic priesthood. His mandate was to live the life of a hermit priest. It was the first time this happened in over 200 years “which is pretty unusual,” as Charles said.
“I came from the Trappist Monks, that’s a Benedictine order. Everybody knew about the hermits on Vancouver Island from all over the world. It was a group that wanted more solitude that you couldn’t find in the big order… I came from New Melleray Abbey (Iowa) to join the hermitage on the Tsolum River — when the mine was going in on Mount Washington.”
That was a copper mine Charles refers to – it operated only two years.
As I swam with my friends in local rivers during lazy adolescent summer days of the early 70’s, I always wondered why the Tsolum looked so different. Acid rock drainage from the defunct mine had combined with poor upstream logging practices, and eventually the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans declared the Tsolum River toxic and dead.
Over the years, government agencies and and non profit groups had unsuccessful attempts at capping the mine. Finally in 2009, a 4.5 million dollar grant from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment helped with a passive wetland treatment plan, and later a new impermeable cap was built. The copper leachate was halted. Water quality is back to normal.
This October 2013, the Tsolum River supported a large run of salmon that returned from the ocean – 60,000 Pinks and numerous Coho, as well as the bugs and plants they feed on.
Charles Brandt lives in an inclusive and universal way. With his gentle collaborative activism he goes about the great work, as Father Thomas Berry names it. Awareness is raised to develop broad based partnerships to help defend and recover fragile eco-systems of rivers and watersheds that sustain humans and non-humans alike. The great work is an ongoing testament of how the earth can heal and the earth might survive – if we let it.
At 90 years of age with humble wisdom, Charles is ever faithful to the contemplative life, Christian Meditation, and to honour the earth as a sacred commons.
As a community lets celebrate the beauty of the natural world while we contemplate the meaning and impact us earthlings have. Within our families, communities, local governments, towns and cities, let us together co-create a better world. We live for such a brief time. Who will we become? And what shall we choose to do?
Our mission is to build up Peace, Joy, Love, Justice, Freedom and Care for the Earth. The moment is now.
“We might sometimes reflect and recall that the purpose of all our science, technology, industry, manufacturing, commerce, and finance is celebration, planetary celebration. This is what moves the stars through the heavens and the earth through its seasons. The final norm of judgment concerning the success or failure of our technologies is the extent to which they enable us to participate more fully in this grand festival.” Thomas Berry
This ongoing “Brandt series” is meant as a collaborative effort with you the reader . . .
May we be well – and the earth be well.
Bruce Thomas W.