Written By:



Susan Meeker-Lowry*

Cosmogenesis is a true gift of a book! I say this for many reasons. I loved reading about Brian’s personal journey in the early years and was amazed at the similarities between his path since his first visit to the Chinook Learning Community (now the Whidbey Institute), and mine. Like Brian, I met some of the people who would be so influential to my work, including Thomas Berry, for the first time at Chinook. So, there was the bonus of a trip down memory lane.

Brian’s story is a window into how, when we pay attention (and sometimes it takes a while), and follow our intuition, we are drawn towards the place, person, experience that will be our next teacher and inspiration. Sometimes there is no logic (we just moved!), just that feeling, and until we heed it, we are . . . if not outright miserable. . . just plodding along. If there’s one thing Brian does not do, it’s plod along!

The New Story also involves our story—mine, yours. When we’re moving into unchartered territory and trying to communicate something of the process and essence of it to others, our stories of struggles, questions, magical moments—all of it—are important. They help others see the connections, how the path unfolded, and the insights that came as a result. Plus, they center us as real human beings with our emotions, imperfections, doubts, joys, so we become relatable. When we relate to someone, we can hear them more clearly. Brian’s generosity, his willingness to share himself with the reader is a demonstration of the power of our story in the context of, in this case, the expanding universe.

Cosmogenesis also feels very personal to me, and I’m so grateful for its publication in these times. I have often wondered over the years since Thomas died, what he would have to say about where we are today. Thomas was a visionary and a realist. He knew the (what I call) magic of the Universe, the love of Earth, and he was also very clear about the need for urgency. And this was decades ago.

This summer feels like a real turning point in awareness thanks to the extremes impacting more people than ever on every continent, in every country, including the oceans and even the depths of Earth under the surface where our infrastructure is being stressed and tested as never before. For me, the smoke from Canadian wildfires that has impacted us here in New York state several times so far, including now as I type these words, has been an ever-present reminder of how urgent our situation is. Experiencing the impacts of breathing such bad air physically is one thing. And I was surprised that my body didn’t deal better with it. But it’s more than that. The smoke, the particles from the wildfires, feel like a death shroud containing literal fragments of burned trees, animals, soil, and sometimes humans. During the worst of it, when the sky was orange and the smoke literally visible to the ground, I could smell forest burning, then sometimes the smell was the unmistakable odor of burning houses—like a fire just down the street, not hundreds of miles away. I thought: This is the future. Right now. And it was devastating and hard to rise above. Even after the air cleared, the sense of doom and despair lingered.

Wildfires in Quebec, June 28, 2023, Copernicus Sentinel-2 Satellite

Then the second worst flood in Vermont’s history ravaged the spine of the state including where I lived for over 20 years, where my sons were born, and where I still have family and many friends. Just thirteen years ago Hurricane Irene devastated many of the same places, though this flood was worse. It’s reasonable to ask: How much time do we have? We are on code red right now. I’ve been aware of the dangers for decades. Yet I’m also aware of the incredible resilience of Earth, the regenerative capacity of Life, the creative energy of Love—the Love that Brian wrote about in The Universe is a Green Dragon. It is a challenge to hold onto that in the face of these devastating events.

So, I was looking for something. Something for my heart and my spirit to help me continue walking the path of my purpose and trusting the Love, the creative force that has guided me throughout my life. And towards the end of Cosmogenesis, I found it.

It’s in Chapter 63, “Cosmological Love,” Brian’s inclusion of the presentation Thomas made on May 23, 1983, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for a conference entitled, “The Spirituality of the Universe.” When I finished reading those five paragraphs, I could not stop crying. I’m not going to quote the whole section—you’ll have to read the book for that—but here’s the last paragraph:

  • The central revelation of the supernova is its irreversible gift-giving. Irreversible because the star uses its energy to fashion the elements, and once that energy is used, it is not restored. The gift requires the star’s death. Though it is a one-time endowment from the star, it is an ongoing gift-giving from the universe. Scientists estimate that with the passing of each second, another star has exploded and is disbursing its treasures. This extravagant gift-giving is the spirituality of the universe. It is a form of cosmic love that enables the future to emerge. Our ancient epics extol humans who give their lives for the well-being of the community. Even if these authors knew nothing of supernovas, they were intuitively aware that the universe values generosity. The generous personality is the human mode of a supernova’s extravagant gift-giving. What I have to offer in terms of faith is simple in the extreme. My trust is in the star’s bestowal of grace. (295)

Supernova, NASA and STSCI

Such depth of emotion welled up in me when I finished reading those words, and it still does. First was gratitude. Then I felt relief, and a sense of light rekindling and supporting the passion that has fueled my work over the decades, from Gaian Economics, to fighting for the water in Fryeburg, Maine, to the importance of our senses and creating natural perfumes. I’ve always been someone who would zoom out to the bigger picture, visualize webs of connections, weaving, expanding; and then I would realize it was time to follow a thread back to where I sat physically. Sometimes this visioning would be a solitary thing, sometimes it was with colleagues—and how we could spin webs together! Then we would get to work, strategizing how to get where we wanted to go. This summer I felt myself losing not the ability, but the inspiration to even try. What was the point? The dystopian energy is so hard to live with, to rise above.

That Brian chose to include these words spoken by Thomas all those years ago in this, his latest book:“My trust is in the star’s bestowal of grace,” speaks volumes of their continued relevance today. The universe, the Living Universe, is still expanding, still creating, still offering gifts of grace, of “unmerited love . . . freely given.”

For now, that’s enough.


* Susan Meeker-Lowry is a writer, activist, herbalist, natural perfumer, and owner of Gaia’s Garden Herbals (www.etsy.com/shop/GaiasGardenHerbals). In the 1980s and 1990s she was active in the community-based economics movement and was one of the first people to integrate Earth into economics. She authored two books on economics: Economics As If the Earth Really Mattered and Invested in the Common Good, both published by New Society Publishers, and both with forewords written by Thomas Berry. Her website (www.gaiasvoices.com) focuses on three strands: The Earth is Alive!, Rights of Nature, and Our Senses are our Superpowers. Her YouTube channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_1m27zWp6LlLdCmpoUGPHQ.