WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

A New Orientation

By Mariela Pérez-Simons

“I wonder if much that ails our society stems from the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be cut off from that love of, and from, the land. It is medicine for broken land and empty hearts.”
—Robin Wall Kimmerer

During my high school years in Cuba, every student needed to pick a sport. I decided to take Orienteering instead of the traditional options because I preferred being outdoors instead of inside loud and smelly gymnasiums.

Taking Orienteering was the best decision I made as a teenager. That training has served me well: it taught me to depend on both my trusty outer compass and my own inner compass. In high school, when I lost myself in the woods (on purpose), I was trained to find my way out. Similarly, every time I’ve lost myself in the whirlwind that is the patriarchal white-supremacist culture of our society, I’ve been able to find my way out.

A hand with red nail polish cups a compass, above the mossy floor of a forest, and the other hand points to moss or another object on the ground.

I’m ashamed to count the ways I’ve gotten completely lost in the vortex that is the white-patriarchal culture of this society. It says: “Faster! More! Bigger!!!” and it goes on abusing people and the planet along the way, with its hunger for more money, more profit; extracting resources; sucking the life out of living things.

This way is not sustainable. Our nervous system can’t sustain that speed, that greed. Our immune system can’t handle it. Our Earth can’t handle it. It’s self-destructive.

Every time I get lost in it, I find my way out. My inner compass shows me the way, because it has a different voice. It says, “This is the way: slower, gentler, more nurturing.” I know this in.my.bones.

I don’t know where this inner compass comes from. Maybe from my ancestral pool? Yes, and I also think it’s from being human, from being a living organism on this planet that knows about the conditions that are life-giving and the conditions that suck our life force. It comes from something within that has learned to recognize self-destructive systems and to return to the Earth for healing.

My inner compass points towards this new North, reminding me of this power we’ve been given to create a new future. I move in this direction now. A new orientation in life, a new direction, beckons to all of us: one that is life-giving.


Oh Great Beauty! Mother Earth, Pachamama, Madre Tierra: May we soon come to recognize your beauty, your generosity, your value, your vulnerability. May we learn to savor and serve you; may we once again return to your wise and delicious ways. You, life giver, life sustainer, most precious gift!

About the Author

Mariela Pérez-Simons

Rev. Mariela Pérez-Simons (she/her) is a Cuban-American UU minister focusing on eco-spirituality, ecofeminism, and religious naturalism. She's the producer of the weekly show "The Seed, The Soil, & The Soul." She can be found online @RevMariela.


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