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I am the Tar Sands

An Earth Meditation


Can we face the truth of the way human beings are altering the Earth without making enemies? Nomi Green invites us to viscerally experience the perspectives of the many beings connected to the tar sands in northern Alberta, Canada.
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In this meditation, Nomi Green invites us to viscerally experience the perspectives of the many beings connected, near and far, to the tar sands in northern Alberta, Canada. The meditation was composed for a session at the Order of Interbeing (OI) Memorial Day retreat in Northern California on climate, which Nomi co-led with OI member John Freese.

Inside of tank at oil sands upgrader in the Athabasca delta region, Alberta, Canada. © J Henry Fair — Used with permission.

The meditation is based on the tar sands in northern Alberta, Canada and what is happening there. I trained a number of groups in nonviolent civil disobedience regarding this specific issue. I believe this action of training was actually successful as we have not yet had to do civil disobedience in any wide spread way. Just the preparation and making that preparation known has been one small step in changing the course on this issue.

Two years ago my beloved and I went to DC to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. That evening we attended a talk about women taking action to stop the pipe. Some of what is in the meditation comes from the voices we heard that night. We were very moved.

With a deep bow and enormous gratitude to our revered teacher who has taught us the reality of interbeing.

Sit down comfortably, ground yourself in your body through following your in and out breath. Use your breathing as an anchor as you phrase by phrase practice this meditation. When we bring our awareness to suffering, compassion has an occasion to arise. Take your time to breathe and sit with each phrase.

I am the sticky oil called bitumen that has lain beneath the ground in northern Alberta for eons. I have been compressed from dead trees and other beings to become the sticky sludge that I am, safely buried in the ground.

I am the human being hungry for oil and gas to run my 21st century life.

I am the First Nation person who lives traditionally and humbly as my ancestors have done, with no hot running water.

I am the new plumbing bringing hot water into northern Alberta by Transcanada Oil Corporation to lift the tar out of the earth.

I am the old growth forest that has lived peacefully with my neighbors since the last ice age.

I am the person who clears the old growth forest to make way for the oil company so that I may pay for groceries for my family.

I am the indigenous activist walking to stop the tar sands.

I am the rabbit, the moose and the elk that has lost my home from clear cutting.

I am the pregnant mother whose fetus is exposed to the chemicals that lift up the tar.

I am the child playing in what’s left of the forest who has developed asthma from the chemicals.

I am the fish with ulcers growing outside my body from swimming in the toxic sludge.

I am the moose who has cancer.

I am the train carrying tar sands oil to be refined.

I am the section of the Keystone XL pipeline waiting to be connected.

I am the trench that has been dug.

I am the worker hoping to have the job of laying the pipe or working for Transcanada.

I am the activist in Nebraska intentionally building a barn on the very land where the pipe is planned to go.

I am the pristine Ogallala Aquifer below the proposed pipeline, which supplies clean drinking water to eight states.

I am the refinery in Texas ready for bitumen to arrive.

I am the Latino worker who works at the refinery.

I am the family living by the refinery that cannot remember what clean air smells like.

I am the environmentalist working on behalf of all life on our planet and to protect the most vulnerable.

I am the oil and gas executive who lives in a lovely place in a large home whose children have clean air and water and safe places to play.

I am a white, widowed, grandmother in Texas whose husband was an oil and gas executive, who has been arrested for blocking the oil company’s bulldozer on my land.

I am driving in my car.

I am the tar sands.

tar sands

Reprinted with permission from Earth Holding Here and Now.

Picture of Nomi Green

Nomi Green

Nomi Green is a member of the Order of Interbeing.
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