Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up,
(environmentalist David Orr)
Recently I attended an on-line FACS event with Pastor Sarah Scherschlight discussing articles collected under “Responding to Climate Change”, written from a Christian perspective. And as FACS is a coalition of many faiths, I wasn’t surprised to find we had Christians, Unitarians, Jews, a Buddhist perspective and people with no religious affiliation gathered together.
And what we found was this: a universal set of values and inspirations that lead us to the same place. In my congregation we say “Service is our prayer” which resounds in these words from the Jewish tradition: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Mishna Pirke Avot).
And from one of the articles we read together: In Practically Divine, Episcopal priest Becca Stevens writes, “The bravest thing we can do in this world is not cling to old ideas or fear of judgment, but step out and just do something for love’s sake. Each act we take against climate change, however small, is an act of love.”
We found, as well, we need to take humanity off the pinnacle of all life, and discover what is called our Ecological Self, e.g. that we are a part of life, not meant to be the dominant species; and that in nature we find ourselves restored to our full humanity. Is our comfort, convenience and desire for MORE, for the impossible ever-expanding growth of economies, what we are called to honor most?
One of my favorite books in the world is Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in with Unexpected Resilience and Creative Power, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. It’s meant to be read in a group, with experiences that help us find our place in the depths of time and on this planet, and then act from there. We don’t know how things will be in one hundred years; many of us fear that we can’t change fast enough to preserve enough climate stability for humanity to endure. So the choice is: give up or do our best. Active Hope is faith in action: that when we join with the forces of Life, or Divinity, or Gaia, life will create conditions that foster life.