Ways of Seeing: The spiritual side of climate change
Across the religious spectrum, climate change is becoming a place where people with varied faith traditions can find common ground for interfaith work. There is no governing body for this trend. That makes it a unique window onto what motivates humans to come together to respond to this global challenge.
A notable local example is the new ACORN Energy Solar2 project on Watch Point Road in Shoreham. Credit for the output of 249,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year from the 612 panels in the 150 kW array is going to seven Addison County congregations working together as the Addison County Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN). They included Congregational churches in Weybridge and Middlebury, Methodist churches in Vergennes and Middlebury, and Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, and Jewish congregations in Middlebury.
The congregations added an additional 10 percent to their investment — a climate action tithe — to donate solar power credits to the Addison County Parent/Child Center. And three individuals invested in the project through ICAN.
The ICAN group held a dedication ceremony on the frigid December morning of the Winter Solstice on the graded site where the solar array was about to be erected. Rev. Daniel Cooperrider and I wrote the following Responsive Reading of Gratitude for that ceremony reflecting on the role the ICAN group has taken on in this project and others addressing climate change. Now, with the solar power finally flowing, we share it with the wider community in the hope that it speaks to many of our neighbors affiliated with other congregations, or with none at all:
In the Beginning, the original Flaring Forth, cause for thanks was seeded among the first elements setting a starry path toward all we know of the Universe,
And spread to the supernovas and their capacity to forge the once implausible prerequisites of life.
And stashed within the modest immensity of the Sun, the blessed distance at which Earth formed to circle it elliptically, the violent birth of the Moon, life-shaping tilt of Earth’s axis, the evolution of Earth’s protective atmosphere and its fertile seas.
Recently, Life on Earth began learning to give thanks. We humans practiced it as we harnessed the fire of the Sun to keep warm, to see, to grow food, to cook, and so much more,
Let us give thanks, we said, for the Sun and the dawn we did not create, and for the moon and the evening we did not make. Let us give thanks for the miracle of food we plant within the Web of Existence and harvest in the presence of a Love with countless names, and none.
We learned that all of us are in need no matter how much we resent it, and then we began to give thanks for those among us who show us the ways of Love embodied. Let us give thanks, we now say, for the painful truths with which they confront us and the opportunity to change our unfolding story.
And so today, warmed by the presence of companions who seek to bless Earth whose beauty and promise is under attack, and grateful for gifts of being, we lift up our hearts in gratitude. Let us truly give thanks.
Editor’s note: A ribbon-cutting for the Shoreham solar array was held this past Saturday.
The Rev. Barnaby Feder is the minister of the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Middlebury.
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