Our Climate Moment/um

Introduction to Our Climate Moment/um

COP21 logo     Our hopes, fears and prayers are focused on the global collaborative efforts to address climate change as hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens gather in Paris for the 21st session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties known as COP21. We will be well represented by our UU United Nations Office (UU-UNO) delegates and other UUs who have dedicated the next twelve days to be our witnesses and advocates for climate justice.

     UUMFE contributor Rev. Gail Collins-Ranadive has compiled ‘Our Climate Moment/um’ to help us connect to the work our friends and leaders are doing on our behalf in Paris. From Gail:

     For each of the Twelve Days of COP21 (Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2015), you’ll find a quote for centering, sanity, and perspective. Each will reflect one of the four essential planetary elements: light, earth, water, and air, as a way to lift up Nature as the lens through which to process the proceedings so critical at this moment in time.  

     Using the spiritual cultivation techniques of our Transcendentalist forebears, you are invited to read each quote for inspiration and insight, rather than to compare and contrast and critique, as we were taught in school. 

     Next, you may want to journal about whatever catches your attention as a way to go deeper into what might be there beyond what your ego self perceives. Perhaps then you could share a line or two, as a way to inform and affirm one another on this path.

Gail Altar     Suggestion: you may want to set up a ‘sacred’ space for focus, a place where you set out samples of light, earth, water and air . . . not as a collection of objects, but for a communion of subjects, as Thomas Berry puts it.

     For example, I have set out a candle the color of sunrise and sunset, sprigs of desert mistletoe from where I hike, a marine fossil from when this area was a vast shallow sea, and feathers from a dove that seems to be every where I go but whose cousin has already gone extinct at human hands. They all rest on a tiny table covered by a scarf depicting hot air balloons and small airplanes that bring to mind a quote from the coal miner grandfather of my first writing mentor:

"You can have your airplanes,

but you lose the wonder of the birds."

     I was earning my private pilot’s license at the time, and I didn’t want to hear this. Now, these forty years later, it haunts me because it speaks to the human hubris that has co-created the crisis we must finally deal with at COP21. 

     Journaling around that quote lifts up the irony of the awe coming from a man who spent daylight hours underground and thus probably rarely saw and heard birds, a miner whose very livelihood was contributing to the climate change that now threatens the existence of all life, including birds . . . 

Twelve Days of COP21 for Our Climate Moment/um

Note: we will post each day's entry the evening before.

Conclusion – Keeping the momentum going:

Final Photo     “Alongside the shoes placed in the Paris plaza by demonstrators forbidden to march on the day before the talks, we placed booties to signify the still to be born generations whose quality of life depends upon the outcome of COP21.

     Now we place a red line in solidarity with the demonstrations planned for today, whether allowed or not.

     What is the red line that I/we will not allow to be crossed by today’s powers and principalities . . . the fossil fuel industry and their paid for politicians who put power and profit above people and planet? 

     What ‘boots on the ground’ climate actions will I/we commit to beyond Paris in order to “to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans will be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner,” as Thomas Berry describes the Great Work of our Era?

     You may wish to review any insights you wrote down over the previous twelve days for clarity in shaping your private and public RED LINE response. Blessings to all!” – Gail Collins-Ranadive
(Image credit: Milt Hetrik)

Day Twelve – December 11: AIR

Day 12     "The wind is the whisper of our mother the earth. The wind is the hand of our father the sky.
The wind watches over our struggles and pleasures.

The wind is the goddess who first learned to fly.

     "The wind is the bearer of bad and good tidings, the weaver of darkness, the bringer of dawn.
The wind gives the rain, then builds us a rainbow, the wind is the singer who sang the first song.

     "The wind is a twister of anger and warming, the wind brings the fragrance of freshly mown hay.
The wind is a racer, a wild stallion running and the sweet taste of love on a slow summer's day.

     "The wind knows the songs of cities and canyons, the thunder of mountains, the roar of the sea.
The wind is the taker and giver of mornings, the wind is the symbol of all that is free.

     "So welcome the wind and the wisdom she offers, follow her summons when she calls again.
In your heart and your spirit, let the breezes surround you.

Lift up your voice then and sing with the wind." – John Denver
(Image credit: http://www.sonomatech.com/)

Day Eleven – December 10: WATER

Day 11     “The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth, it can lie down like silk breathing or toss havoc shoreward; it can give gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can sweet-talk entirely. As I can too, and so, no doubt, can you, and you.” – Mary Oliver
(Image credit: http://www.bioexpedition.com/ocean-biome/)

Day Ten – December 9: EARTH

Day 10     "This is our home;
Out of the stars we have come.

     "Rising from rocks and sea,
Kindled by sunlight on earth, arose life.

     "Ponder this thing in your heart; ponder with awe:
Out of the sea to the land, out of the shallows came ferns.

     "Out of the sea to the land, up from darkness to light,
Rising to walk and to fly, out of the sea trembled life.

     "Life from the sea, warmed by sun, washed by rain,
Life from within, giving birth, rose to love.

     "This is the marvel of life, rising to see and to know;
Out of your heart, cry wonder: sing that we live." – Excerpted from Robert Terry Weston
(Image credit: greenoverdose.com)

Day Nine – December 8: LIGHT

Day 9     "We have come forth from this beautiful planet that we have so recently seen photographed from the moon.

     "We are its eyes and its mind, its seeing and thinking. And the earth, together with its sun, this light around which it flies like a moth, came forth, we are told, from a nebula, and that nebula, in turn from space. So that we are the mind ultimately of space." – Joseph Campbell

(Image credit: NASA, Apollo 8 1968)

Day Eight – December 7: AIR

Day 8     "We are dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate the earth hasn't seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past. The ones that led to mass extinctions. We just can't seem to break our addiction to fuel that will bring back the climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment and our ability to feed ourselves.

     "The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What's our excuse?"  – Neil deGrasse Tyson 
(Image credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/dinosaurs/)

Day Seven – December 6: WATER

Day 7     "Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does." – Margaret Atwood
(Image credit: http://pcwallart.com/rocky-mountain-stream-wallpaper-3.html)

Day Six – December 5: EARTH

Day 6     "If you agree with me, I may yet be wrong. But if the elm tree says the same thing, I know I am right."  – R. W. Emerson
(Image credit: http://www.naturepictures.co/)



Day Five – December 4: LIGHT

Day 5     "Let there be light! With those words, the story of man properly begins. Without his timely command of fire, man could hardly have survived the vicissitudes of the Ice Ages. His ability to think under these trying conditions may have depended upon his ability to remain quiet for long periods of time in a warm, enclosed space. The cave was the first cloister . . . through his first awareness of himself man began the long process of enlarging the boundaries of the universe and giving to the dumb cosmic show the one attribute it lacked: a knowledge of what for four billions of years had been going on." – Lewis Mumford
(Image credit: http://guardianlv.com/2014/01/qesem-cave-reveals-early-humans-use-of-controlled-fire-300000-years-ago/)

Day Four – December 3: AIR

     "From our first cry announcing our arrival on Earth to our very last sigh at the moment of death, our need for air is absolute. Every breath is a sacrament, an essential ritual. As we imbibe this sacred element, we are physically linked to all of our present biological relatives, countless generations that have been preceded us and those that will follow." – David Suzuki
(Image credit: http://www.woolsnz.com/)

Day Three – December 2: WATER

Day 3     "What are humans but a clever way that water has found of going beyond the reach of rivers?" – Adapted from Loren Eiseley




Day Two – December 1: EARTH

Day 2 image      "We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness.  We have begun to contemplate our origins: star stuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose.

     "Our loyalties are to the species––all the species––and the planet itself. WE speak for earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we have sprung." – Carl Sagan
(Image credit: http://neijman.deviantart.com/art/Green-Earth-126055809)

Day One – November 30: LIGHT

Day 1      "To speak of the universe’s origin is to bring to mind the great silent fire at the beginning of time. We can see the dawn of the universe because the light from its edges reaches us only now, after traveling twenty billion years to get here. We are the first humans to look into the night sky and see the birth of stars, the birth of galaxies, the birth of the cosmos as a whole. Our future as a species will be forged within this new story of the world." – Brian Swimme
(Image credit: NASA )

Photo Research by Milt Hetrick.


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