These are the words that came to me during my daily contemplation a couple of days ago. It’s time to move out of my chair and get involved.
The replenishment of rest, contemplation and renewal provides the bedrock from which action springs and there is a stirring within me as I realize my soul is getting ready for action.
But what does my soul long to do? What pulls at my heart calling me to action?
Climate strike, climate change, climate disaster. These are the things that eat at my soul and say “do something”. I cannot watch the young people crying out for changes to our destructive use of the earth’s resources or follow the path of disastrous weather events like droughts and tornados without knowing that I need to respond.
Do something my soul cries. Let the seeds planted in you blossom and produce fruit. Responding to the climate crisis is one of the main contexts in which we need to follow Jesus today. This paraphrase of a sentence from an article I read this week says it all. We cannot claim to be serious followers of Jesus unless we take seriously what is happening to our planet and to the future of our young people.
We Can Always Do Something More.
I am not sure who said these words this week but they keep revolving in my mind and I know they are for me. The small intentional community we are a part of has always worked to live sustainably and lightly on the earth but I know there is far more that we could and should do. This is a crisis, a crisis that shows we are not good stewards of the earth that God asks us to take responsibility for. We might feel we are already engaged in these issues but we can always do something more – advocates can become practitioners and vise versa. Those engaged at home can also engage at work and at church and in their communities. There is always something more we can do without exhausting ourselves and suffering from burnout.
So what can we do? Here are my suggestions.
Read and Listen
I read some great articles this week on how to respond. I tried to make these my focus rather than the bad news articles that tell me constantly how dire the situation is. Many of us are aware of that and we don’t need to hear it again. Ten Ways My Family Tries to Love The Planet is a great place to start, though I must confess it had me jumping up and down wanting to say – Read The Gift of Wonder because a lot of what it suggests are ideas that I talk about in my book – cultivating awe and wonder, curiosity, delight and thanksgiving are all emphasized. Above all they bring us from a place of hopelessness and fear to one of joy and engagement.
Other good voices to listen to are the First Nations people concerned about creation care and our irresponsible use of the planet for many years. Randy Woodley is a good person to start with. If you want a theological approach try Shalom and the Community of Creation. If you want something lighter – maybe a story to share with your kids, his The Harmony Tree is a delightful read.
- What are you reading that girds your feet for action in the current climate crisis?
Ground Yourself in Good News Theology
We easily forget that Jesus brings good news – not just for us but for our neighbours and for our planet. God’s end game is not some fiery apocalypse but a restored creation and a renewed people. In Christ all will be made new. The beautiful imagery of the Holy city at the end of time in Revelation 22 is of a garden city with the river of life flowing through it lined by trees that produce fruit in every month of the year and whose soothing leaves provide healing for the nations.
- What Bible verses give you hope and renewal as you face the impact of the climate crisis in your neighbourhood and around the world?
Believe Change is Possible
Many of us do nothing because we are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem and we cannot see how our little contribution can make a difference. Yet it can and we don’t need to be a Greta Thunberg or a Wendell Berry for that to happen. Every time we plant a seed, decide to walk rather than drive, or cut back on our consumption of fossil fuel we say we care and we can make a difference.
- What small things do you you could do to make a difference in your life, neighbourhood or country?
Be Inspired by the Light Bringers
Greta Thunberg has been a light bringer for millions and I am reminded of Isaiah 11:6 a little child will lead them. And I do feel that in this time of crisis it will be the children or at least the young people that lead us and hopefully we will be inspired by their rallying call.
There are others too that give me hope and guidance. Young Evangelicals for Climate Action is one group of young Christians that give me hope. The Evangelical Environmental Network the umbrella group for Young Evangelicals is another. Plant With Purpose is yet another. And the list goes on of Christians already involved in addressing, in their own small way the challenge of climate change.
As I sit here today, eyes are drawn to my copy of Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees. She is another light bringer. I love this book, not just for its beautiful illustrations and inspiring story but also because it convinces me that ordinary people can make a difference and far more of a difference than any of us expect.
- Who are the guiding lights that help you believe change is possible and we can all make a difference?
Allow The Spirit To Speak To you About What You Could Do.
It is not just the human light bringers that challenge me and so many around the world to move into action at this critical time. The Holy Spirit too calls me to do something and a good place to start is by looking around at what is already happening and saying Who is God prompting me to join? You might like to start by checking out the organizations above. Or perhaps your church is already involved in environmental initiatives. Earth Ministry has a wonderful Green Congregations Initiative that provides some wonderful suggestions on things that your church can do and offers a partnership arrangement to help this happen. Our own church Saint Andrews Episcopal installed solar panels several years ago and was awarded by the Bishop of Olympia for their efforts. I am so proud of what they have done because of the prompting of the Spirit.
- In what ways could you help your congregation listen to the voice of the Spirit about the climate crisis and ways they could respond?
Confront the Problem Head On
OK my friends say but you are an Enneagram 8. Of course you want to confront this head on. Of course you believe that everyone should. And it is true as a contemplative activist and an Enneagram 8, I do want to get out there and lead the charge, but if that is not you, find someone who can lead the charge and follow them. Find someone who can inspire you to change and who can give you the fuel and the action steps to do so.
- In what ways do you need to confront the challenge of climate change head on and who can you enlist or follow to walk with you?
Make a Commitment and Stick to It
Here is where the rubber meets the road. It is one thing to march with thousands of others who are inspired in the moment by young advocates. It is another to commit to change and stick to it. And I am guilty of this. We talked for years of installing solar power and large rain barrels but neither have happened. Though solar panels will be installed this year!!! My resolve to walk more to the supermarket rather than drive also tended to be overlooked. This I think is where we need a community that holds us responsible. (Maybe some of you will be that community for me?)
- Who will keep you accountable to the changes you resolve to make?
How Would God Ask You To Respond?
Our creator will probably not ask you to do the same things that I am considering but I do ask you to prayerfully consider what is being asked of you. As a good steward and a committed follower of Jesus how will you respond to rallying call? How will you investing the future of our young people and of our planet by taking the climate crisis seriously?
- Prayerfully read Ten Ways My Family Tries to Love The Planet Is there a way that God is asking you to respond?