Stories are amazing and wonderful. They reveal our origins, tell us where we are now, and provide a sense of tomorrow. Today we call the narrative that tells our 14-billion-year history the “universe story.” This story was heralded 25 years ago through the publication of The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era: A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos.
At the time, I attended a gathering at the Gaia Bookstore in North Berkeley to honor the authors. In the corner of room populated by colleagues, friends, and students, sat cultural historian and geologian Thomas Berry and scientist and ecological philosopher Brian Thomas Swimme. At the end, each inscribed a brief comment on my copy. Thomas wrote, “Autumn greetings 1992,” and Brian wrote, “May our common work so long in the making continue to fructify.”
The vision of Thomas and Brian has inspired many projects and books since—among which I include my own work. And there is still much to do. Their wisdom and guidance have never been more needed than they are today.
Today, climate change is no longer a theory, but an alarming reality. Witness, for example, the highest temperatures on record here in the Bay Area this month. Across the arid regions of the planet, heat and drought are rendering human life increasingly difficult. Every night, the media is abuzz with the latest revelations about the Russian influence in our elections, threatening our democracy, while the threat of nuclear war once again looms large.
These days, as we tremble at the thought of our uncertain future, we welcome the prophetic voice of Pope Francis, and his letter to the world Laudato Si’–On Care for Our Common Home. And we turn for guidance to the wisdom of Berry and Swimme, so that ecological balance and planetary peace may be restored to our fragile planet, and that our lives may be guided by deep cultural wisdom.