For All

Modified on: June 28, 2018

In times of despair for our country, I often turn to a poem by Gary Snyder—deep ecologist, Beat poet, Zen teacher. In it, Snyder invokes our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance to commit himself anew to something far greater—life, and the right of all beings to thrive, and our responsibility in that Great Circle of life. He speaks of Turtle Island, the indigenous Anishinaabe people’s name for North America—a place unbound by borders and bans, a place over which all beings may roam:

“For All”

Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
northern rockies.

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
singing inside
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.

I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
one ecosystem
in diversity
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.

May the Sun over this land shine on us, and embolden us, For All—


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