In May of this year I sat in a webinar on climate emergency organized by Episcopal clergy and lay leaders. I listened to Dr. Bette Hecox-Lea, an Episcopalian and marine biologist, speak words of unvarnished truth about how biosphere degradation has activated tipping points that, if left on course, will result in a massive extinction event. On behalf of the scientific community, she said plainly, “We do not know what will come after these points have tipped permanently, other than that the earth will become uninhabitable.” I wept tears of shocked but sober recognition as I absorbed information I have heard before, but this time, truly listened.[i]
Five months earlier, in January, I had brought my weight of grief and hope for the world to the silent winter woods at Emery House. I had left screens and books and words and even food behind me for a time. I found a lone hemlock tree, and dug a clearing in the snow beneath it until I could see and touch the body of the earth. I nestled my weary body against the cold, dark, moist soil and gazed up at the green branches sheltering me. I prayed as though my life and all life depended upon it. Time seemed to stop as I lay there, and as the drops of snow-melt mingled with my tears of gratitude, something happened. My flesh knew the earth from which it had come, and to which it would return; my bones knew that death would be only a door into the Creator’s heart; and my heart knew that while I am alive I am bound by Christ to love him in and through this Creation, from which we are not separate.
Exodus 16: 2-4, 9-15
Psalm 78: 23-29
Ephesians 4: 1-16
This past Lent, I took on what some might think of as a rather unusual Lenten discipline. It was a discipline which by all reports, was highly popular among the brothers in the community and our guests. In fact it was the most popular Lenten discipline I have ever taken on. I decided for Lent to bake bread two or three times a week. At one point, after going through 100 pounds of flour, and starting on my third 50 pound bag, Timothy told me that we had gone through more flour in three or four weeks, than we normally go through in a year!