pixabay image by Natan Vancer
The eclipse was always a special time for the boy and his community. Donning special glasses they gazed at the spectacle for a few silent moments as they offered their prayers for the safe keeping of those that had fled the Earth in spaceships decades earlier. The first ships in the fleet would have reached Mars by now and work would have began on terraforming that inhospitable environment.
Once that ritual prayer was out of the way the community got on with the Sacred Earth Ceremony. This time of dancing, singing and feasting was one of the few times that they got together. People came in from the outlying subterranean cities and mountain hideaways and met at the wide plateau overlooking the jagged spires of the city.
It was where they had gathered to watch the last of the space ships leave. The boy was far to young to remember that but he had heard the stories of how hordes of people had clamoured to get on board those tin cans and flee All of them believed the Earth was doomed. To be sure climate change was wreaking havoc. The seas were rising and coastal cities were being inundated. Violent storms, droughts, floods and out of control wild fires were so common it was easy to see why they felt that way.
The Earth Keepers, the boy’s soul family, felt otherwise. They were not fools. They knew the planet was in dire straits but desert it they would not The Earth was their home and they were it’s Keepers.
Every eclipse they gathered to give thanks. They gave thanks for all they had achieved – the rivers that now flowed freely for the first time in a century or more and the eco-systems that were coming back into balance They gave thanks for the viable communities they had created where all, regardless of race, gender, age and ability were equal. They gave thanks for the harvest they had gathered no matter how meagre. They gave thanks for the resources they had salvaged, recycled, upcycled and repaired so that they could bring them here to trade. They gave thanks for the books, art and artifacts they had saved and rehoused in stable buildings that were open to all.
Most of all they gave thanks that they were alive and that the Earth was slowly returning to harmony. The city on the horizon looked even more spectral at each gathering. Although the rising seas meant that entire neighbourhoods were now unsafe it was still a great supplier of resources and some still ventured into those cold canyons of glass and steel. More than anything though it functioned as a salutatory reminder of the excesses of the past.
Although it wasn’t really the point of the Gratitude Ceremony every now and then someone would give a whoop of joy that all those people had fled on those rocket ships and left the Keepers in peace. It was hard not to.