06/20/2012 06:14 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2012

Summer Solstice 2012 At The Rio +20

This year I've left the summer solstice behind, and traveled to the winter solstice. At home in New England my friends have planted gardens weeks earlier than usual and are already harvesting.

I have left behind the longest day of the year, and traveled to Rio de Janeiro, where the sun sets around 5 pm for the shortest day. The 'winter' temperatures of around 70 degrees are not at all hard to take. And the fruit and vegetation here evoke summer for me, but it's the tropics, not the summer.

It's disconcerting. This is the first time in my life that I've had balmy temperatures while the sun sets early. I kept thinking it must be late, but no, what feels to me like a warm summer night is an early winter evening. Watching the waters circle clockwise in an ocean pool and in a drain is interesting, although I understand it's a coincidence rather than a hemispheric rule.

I'm attending the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development where the nations of the world are working out a common document on development priorities.

We're looking at some backing away from language adopted in previous years, and a political lower common denominator rather than a visionary leap forward in the text. But the document is not the only outcome of this conference. There are voluntary commitments, and much networking among activists. A new online process brought in more input around environmental priorities from a wider audience, and dialogues held here offered the opportunity for more discussion.

In my work with the Temple of Understanding and the Interfaith Consortium
for Ecological Civilization I convened a side event of interfaith spiritual leaders to discuss the need for consciousness change in our relationship to the environment.

Dr.Vandana Shiva advocates saving seeds, all kinds of the non-genetically modified kind that have grown food for humans for a long time. Jayanti Kirpalani of the Brahma Kumaris spoke of respect, respect for self, for home, for others and for the natural world.

We have spiritual resources to guide us in this dangerous time that can help us enjoy peace as well as take effective action.

I was invited to speak on aligning awareness and action, and offered up a set of concepts: humility, intimacy, interconnectedness, acting into new awareness, composting as a spiritual practice, love as sustainable energy, and spirituality as nourishment offering freedom
from addiction. This is my early harvest this solstice, the seeds of a book coming your way soon.

For now, you too can check out the proceedings at Rio +20 online at where the world's political leaders are now making their statements. I'm watching on a large
screen here in Rio, as the shortest day turns into night.

Blessings on the solstice.