07/22/2007 10:39 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Extraordinary Experiences in Ordinary Life

James Carse revealed in Breakfast at the Victory: the Mysticism of Ordinary Experience (1994), how the very simple acts of everyday life are extraordinary moments that reflect the deep connection, compassion, and kindness of human nature. On October 5, 2007, Michelle Gardner-Quinn finished an ordinary task of any college student -- completing a paper for a class assignment, in this case, her Environmental Studies 151 class. A senior at the University of Vermont, she likely had all the same ordinary thoughts when assigned this task -- a wish to do well in the course, a wish to get the paper done so she could hang out with friends, a sense of knowing that this 'paper' was part of the building blocks toward her dreams, her life, her career. Two days later, Michelle was randomly targeted, raped, and murdered. Nine months later, the words she wrote for her ordinary Environmental Studies class are being heard by the world.

Michelle's essay was brought to the ears of the world through the voices of many famous women for Live Earth to help create awareness of the Climate Crisis and what we can do to fix it. In this experience, we see that every moment in our lives is both ordinary and extraordinary, it just takes our attention to see it. In Michelle's horrific death, attention turned toward her life. When we hurry through the moments of daily living, thinking of the future or worrying about the past, we miss the extraordinary nature of each and every moment. In Michelle's words, I find the extraordinary voice of the environmental movement of the present. It is a voice of connection -- awareness that we are all part of a single vibrant universe. It is a voice of commitment -- a passion to believe in humanity and act upon those beliefs. It is a voice of love -- that we all are in this together and that we all must make a difference. Michelle's is the voice of a new generation, a voice of unity. We need care and love one another without distinction of our differences. The loss of Michelle's life is a suffering and pain we all must share, and the beauty and truth in Michelle's words, a light we must follow.