Opening and Closing Words at a Climate Crisis Conversation Evening, by Jane Doull

Opening  Words 

We gather as those who love this planet-

Especially the earth, the water, the sky , the habitats we call home- 

but we know- it’s all our home.

We have heard the alarm.

Our house is on fire.

The polar icecap is melting.

Some glaciers are already gone.

The sea levels are rising.

The storms become fiercer and more frequent.

While some lands are hotter and drier and the droughts are more devastating.

Marine life is under stress,

As is all life.

The farmers know it.

The fishing people know it.

The poor of the world know it, all too well- they get the worst of it,

The creatures of land and sea know it, to their peril.

The scientists know it and have been telling us for decades.

This knowledge weighs on the hearts and minds of our young people-

And they ask:

Have you not heard?

Are you not listening?

What will you do? 

We here tonight are listening-

We come with our anxieties, our fears, our questions?

Especially, the big question:

Is it too late?

And another big question:

If we sound the alarm even louder than it’s already sounding, will those with the power and the money listen?  

And another: what can we ourselves do ?

And will it make any difference?

A wise poet said-” love the questions!”

And so we love these questions-

May they invite us into community with others who love these questions,

And together may we share not just information,

But wisdom,

Imagination,

Courage- 

And yes, anger!

As a modern mystic says-” may our anxiety turn into anger”

Not the anger which riots on the street,

But the anger which is the” work of love”

The anger which energizes us to imagine and act,

And refuse to give up,

And refuse to fall silent.

May it be so as we begin our time of conversation,

We, as those who love this place and this planet,

And long to save the world and ourselves.

May it be so. 

Closing Words

And so we have listened to each other, and  learned from each other-

We know this climate crisis is not on our individual shoulders,

But is carried by a community,

A community together with many other communities all over the world,

 A community in love with this beautiful world,

A community refusing to let it be destroyed by greed and laziness and short-term gain,

A community determined to hear and sound the alarm,

Not caring if some call us alarmists.

As a modern activist tells us, “this changes everything!”

And so to slow climate change, to stop its effects,

We change our ways

And we challenge the powers that be to change their ways too.

We will not settle for appeals to our pocketbooks.

We look for- we demand- appeals to our love of earth,

Appeals to our love of living beings,

That they may still  live even after some of us have ceased to be ,

That children may yet  be born on this earth 

With a future worth having.

No, we do not know.

Even as scientists embrace uncertainty along with knowledge,

Even as dark matter and dark energy do their thing unobserved,

We cannot get the whole picture of how things will be-

Will it be enough?

Will enough of us do enough and say enough and change enough to save our earth, to save the generations yet to come?

We do not know.

But we choose- each of us fortified by Spirit, Wisdom, Compassion, whatever it is that strengthens our nerve and steadies our steps-

We choose to bear witness.

We choose to be among those who did what they could,

Who can tell future generations- we tried, 

We did not give up,

As the poet says,  we “[ did] not approve and [we  were] not resigned .

And since even a few brave strong people can change the world,

We go out brave and strong and wise enough to speak truth to power, to walk our talk, and yes- to dare to make a difference.

Because we can, because we must. May  it be so! 

Footnote to above- these words were designed for a diverse group, not all church people , of various spiritual paths. In order, I refer to a wise poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, then to modern mystic John O’Donohue, then to activist Naomi Klein, then to poet Edna St Vincent Millay.


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