I spent the weekend at a School of the Spirit Board retreat. The theme was “Longing.Journeying.Together.” This morning as I continue to enjoy the leftovers from the spiritual feast, my thoughts turn to the question of what I can share from the abundance.
One thing that comes to mind is that drinking deeply from the stream of Living Water replenished my soul, and I will return to the work of climate change activism with renewed strength. I now see my role in that work more clearly. During the retreat, when we considered the question of what we long for as a Board, one participant in the retreat spoke of “creating spaces where [spiritual] longing is both normal and accompanied.” I think she was referring to the fact that our culture rarely allows us to express our deepest longings, but when we do, and more importantly, when we decide to act on them, it is good to have companions on the journey.
Perhaps our work in climate change activism is to create opportunities for people to recognize their own longing for a sustainable world—a world in which their children and grandchildren can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and eat healthy food. Would anyone disagree with this? They may disagree with various strategies for reversing our current course to destruction, but can people of faith join together for helping to bring about the Blessed Community on earth?
In a recent essay, Bill McKibben says that the question he gets asked the most when he goes about talking about climate change is “What can I do?” He says that the problem is with the word “I.” The right question is “What can WE do to make a difference?” “Because if individual action can’t alter the momentum of global warming, movements may still do the trick. Movements are how people organize themselves to gain power—enough power, in this case, to perhaps overcome the financial might of the fossil fuel industry. Movements are what can put a price on carbon, force politicians to keep fossil fuel in the ground, demand subsidies so that solar panels go up on almost every roof, not just yours. Movements are what take 5 or 10 percent of people and make them decisive—because in a world where apathy rules, five or ten percent is an enormous number.”
“The most important thing an individual can do is not be an individual. Join together—that’s why we have movements like 350.org or Green for All, like BlackLivesMatter or Occupy.” * Or EQAT or GreenFaith or any number of local coalitions.
I’m actually a little surprised at where this musing has taken me today. It seems that I have become an activist. But I know in my soul that I am also a contemplative. It was interesting to hear from one of the brothers at the Norbertine Abbey where our retreat was held that the Norbertines have always maintained an active role in the world, along with their daily prayers and spiritual disciplines. I long to maintain both as well. I pray that my actions will be Spirit-led, and that I allow space in my daily routine for listening to that Spirit.