My first day out for the annual PAIPL Bike Ride was a contemplative and vigorous hike through the Dick and Nancy Eales Preserve in Jessup, PA. It was the first day of Eid-ul Fitr and I was regaining some strength, hydration, and full body nourishment before I got on my bicycle for a long or technical ride. The month of Ramadan is more than an endurance test of fasting from food and drink from dawn to sunset, it is a month of deep reflection on one's relationship with God and how that manifests in one's priorities, character and interpersonal relationships, and moral actions. The Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain is on the PA IPL list of routes in the Scranton area not only for a fantastic mountain bike experience, but also for what it offers to the reflective heart mind, i.e., our capacity as humans to reason, to love, and to know...and it was perfect for an Eid reflection.
I took the panoramic photo above from the highest point of the heath barren preserve looking West with clear views to the North and South. In the sing song company of Field Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, Prairie Warblers, and American Robins, we together had our feathers ruffled or hair tousled in the brisk wind blowing across the valley and over the mountain. Looking West with the wind enveloping us, we were palpably part of a vast landscape where only several hours earlier would have been visible the dark and star-studded expanse of our galaxy and universe. Batin and Zahir are the Arabic words for Inner or Hidden and Outer or Apparent and two of the many beautiful names of God mentioned in the Quran (57:3; 59:24). The potential energy stored in the stacked rocks in front of me (the inner rock?) catch my reflective attention. What does this panoramic view offer of the inner and hidden? the outer and apparent? Potential and kinetic energy; what potential energy lies in the valley below me within the breasts of the human beings who live there? How is that potential set free to reason, to love, and to know how to act (kinetic) in communion with the vastness before it?
Hidden in the panorama photo far to the south is the steam from the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant (Berwick) while in the foreground is the Keystone Landfill (Dunmore) where "meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies" (EPA) is questioned in local environmental justice struggles that are minimized by industries profiting from overconsumption and a throw away culture, an entrenched politics, worry for a viable economic future, and general feeling of powerlessness in the face of these factors. The photo also hides the Invenergy Natural Gas Power Plant (Jessup 2018) just below Moosic mountain in the northwest; the steam from its 3 stacks can be seen billowing upwards periodically as a reminder of its presence. Far to the north on a distant, but not TOO distant, ridge is the Waymart Wind Farm. In between all of these are vast remnants of abandoned coal mines and iron red creek beds, black mounds and tailings, and general blanket of coal dust. Also hidden in this photo are the thousands of human beings living in the valley below, full of potential energy. This energy can be channeled to walk and talk with the migrant Prairie Warblers (newly arrived from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba), to bike alongside the Eastern Towhees and Robins and even a Thrush or two crossing the path, and to reflect on the centuries-old story embedded in the panorama before you - limitless beauty, economic and fossil fuel excitement and let down, basic needs met and unmet, consumption and overconsumption, nuclear fuel and fossil fuels, climate change and wind power. The Eales Preserve in the end is a retreat for its human visitors. Ours is to descend the mountain and return to the valley with the panoramic view impressed on our heart mind fully energized to reason, to love, and to know what to do next.