By Mariela Pérez Simons
It’s fascinating that the theme for January 2020 at All Souls is “Saving Creation,” since many of us have been watching in anguish the widespread devastation caused by bushfires in Australia. Millions of acres have been torched, and it’s estimated that about half a billion animals have been killed.
A Small Window of Time
Our current climate crisis (with the loss of biodiversity and eco-system collapse, etc.) is perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced. Reversing its effects won’t be easy, but we still have a small window of time, which makes this an imperative for all of us and will require a shift in the way we live; no small feat, but history teaches us that drastic changes in society are possible.
The Great Turning
Just like 10,000 years ago, the domestication of plants and animals led to the Agricultural Revolution, and how a few hundred years ago the Industrial Revolution completely changed the way human beings interacted with one another and with nature, a shift of similar magnitude is already happening, which is transforming the basis of our society. Some call this shift The Ecological Revolution or the Sustainability Revolution; others call it “The Great Turning,” and I love that term.
The Great Turning is about re-turning to what societies valued before colonization and before the industrial revolution, therefore, one of the places where we religious/spiritual individuals can begin is by reconnecting with nature and reclaiming some of the spiritual practices of reverence, kinship, and gratitude for the Earth that some of our ancestors had.
The Beauty Way
One of my favorite teachers, the activist, poet, and scholar of Lakota native heritage, Carol Lee Sanchez, in her essay Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral: The Sacred Connection, writes about “The Beauty Way,” including the practice of noticing the beauty that is still left on the planet.
“Today, in our genuine recognition of the current national ecological imbalances among plant and animal species caused by environmental pollutants of various kinds, many of us are focusing far more on the ugliness than on the remaining beauty that surrounds us… The Great Mystery continues to surround us with beauty, and it is important to carry more of those images around with us while we attempt to ‘correct’ the imbalances we have so carelessly brought about.”
Reconnecting & Falling In Love
While we shouldn’t ignore the devastation (on the contrary!) I’m part of the school of thought that believes that it’s only by reconnecting with the Earth, and falling in love with it, that we can save it, because we cannot destroy what we love.
I’m also finding hope these days in the creativity of human beings to solve complex issues. For example, recently, 107 teens from all over the world were awarded for launching their own projects to save oceans from plastic pollution.
Meanwhile, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, announced recently “a multimillion-dollar prize to encourage the world’s greatest problem solvers to tackle the climate crisis,” as Reuters reported. “The prize will be given to five winners a year for the next 10 years starting in 2021 with the goal of funding 50 creative and achievable solutions to the world’s greatest threat by 2030.” Because of news such as these, I’ve been thinking of how our creations can help creation.
The Call of our UU Faith
Lastly, our Unitarian Universalist tradition call us to take action in the face of climate destruction. We must then examine how our apathy, as well as our self-interest and consumption are contributing to the destruction of our mother planet. And, since the 2020 elections will be one of the most important of our lifetime, we are also being asked to UU the Vote (#UUtheVote) and put our values into action.
Join All Souls’ ACTION team in person on Sunday, January 12 at 2:45 p.m. to watch the launch, or join in from wherever you are in the world to watch the live broadcast.
May it be so. I’ll leave you with a poem of praise for the Earth.
In Praise of the Earth
by John O’Donohue
Let us thank the Earth
That offers ground for home
And holds our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies.
Let us salute the silence
And certainty of mountains:
Their sublime stillness,
Their dream-filled hearts.
The kindness of the Earth,
Opening to receive
Our worn forms
Into the final stillness.
Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth
For all our sins against her:
For our violence and poisonings
Of her beauty.
Let us remember within us
The ancient clay,
Holding the memory of seasons,
The passion of the wind,
The fluency of water,
The warmth of fire,
The quiver-touch of the sun
And shadowed sureness of the moon.
That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth
Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.
Join us at All Souls on every Sunday in January, 2020 to explore the theme of Saving Creation. We’d love to have you with us in-person or online, together in community and covenant. Live stream services are at 10:00 a.m. CST for our Traditional service or the 11:30 a.m. CST Contemporary service.
Listen to all our services, including The Point, Humanist Hour (Sundays at 11:30 a.m.) on our weekly podcast, too. Wednesday Connections kicks off on January 15 with a community screening of American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel. Regular programing begins the following week, 5:30 p.m. with dinner and a full night of programming for everyone.
Mariela Pérez Simons is serving as an intern minister this year at All Souls . She moved to Tulsa with her husband and their daughter this summer. Mariella grew up in Cuba and has an incredible story of coming to the United States. She is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. Mariela attended a seminary class here at All Souls that we hosted for Meadville Lombard in 2018. Upon spending a week with us, she knew that this was a place where she wants to spend more time and learn and grow as a minister. Read more about her work at All Souls with Flourish for People of Color.