On a recent episode of Climate Café Multifaith, hosted by Rev. Richenda Fairhurst, Rev. Alison Cornish and I talked about the grief we humans feel when the places we love are damaged.
Then Alison invited the participants to create a collective prayer. “Look out your window and see what you love,” she began. “Allow yourself to think about how this place has somehow been damaged Maybe it’s visible Maybe it’s invisible.” She asked everyone to speak directly to their place and write their responses in the Chat.
Next, she invited people to offer a wish or prayer for their place and write that in the Chat. The result of this collective offering is heartfelt and eloquent:
Part I
Forest lost
For the wall. The concrete thorn embedded where nature was… and is… and hurts…
Concrete jungle
It’s all stolen land
How the great and tall have fallen.
Siblings gone from building in which I live
How light refracts into rainbow
Neighborhood losing all its trees.
Permanent riparian conservation easement ditched by municipal fossil gas pipeline
The tree we had to remove because of fire, its roots still deep.
Freshness of light on underside of bird’s wing
Half of the pine tree canopy still survives, lost its other half to house fire
No snow on the hills, no water, no fish, what loss is this.
Part II
I love you. I will take care of you.
Beautiful trees—flourish!
Praying for the blessing of human movement without fossil fuels
Maybe the emptiness, the loss, is itself a blessing to me, one who needs to learn and see the harm we have done so that we can repent and change.
birds not helicopters
may your example of endurance (for centuries?) despite challenges bless me
Even death is redeemed by the space it makes for a newness of life to emerge.
And I myself ask for forgiveness from this place.
More love for this earth, less stress and strife.
may I more greatly appreciate the sacrifices required for me to live here
All of this land was old growth forest and cared for by many indigenous tribes for millennia before white settlers cleared it, leading to one of Portland’s monikers: Stump Town. What is here now cannot be undone, but it can still be stewarded differently and in ways that are far less damaging to the air, water, and land.
I agree with that