Thursday, May 28, 2009

earth is hiring (Hawken)

"Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades," said Paul Hawken, at his commencement address to the University of Portland on May 3rd.

He also said, "Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation -- but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement...

There is invisible writing on the back of the says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn't afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world...

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen...The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history..."

Friday, May 22, 2009

memorial weekend bellsound

Just north of Arlington National Cemetery,
across the Potomac from our nation’s capitol,
is a 127-foot-high bell tower.
Called the “Netherlands Carillon,”
the bells were donated by the Dutch people
in gratitude for the aid given them
by the citizens of the United States,
during and after World War II.
The first 49 bells were donated in 1954,
and the 50th was recently added,
to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.

We ring our single bell, this morning,
to celebrate the liberation of the human spirit.
From our fears and worries, from our sorrow and our rage,
may the sound of this bell center us
in the abiding love
which is the animating principle of all of us…

Friday, May 15, 2009

nourishment of tears

My colleague, Fred Wooden, recently reminded us that "becoming often requires the nourishment of tears." He also noted, "If you don't look at the money, our church is doing quite well..." Attendance, programs, new members are all up. There will always be problems. If we define 'success' as the absence of problems, then we make success unattainable. If we define success in other ways, and allow problems to coexist with, but not negate, the things which are going well, we will automatically be more successful. Finally, he said that sometimes we must put down what we've been carrying, in order to receive something new. Thank you, Fred.

I thought that he'd sourced "becoming often requires the nourishment of tears" to our hymnal, but I cannot find it. Nor do I find that phrase when googling. I did find several sites on proper eye care, and one Yahoo! question, "Is the vine of love nourished by the flow of tears?" Does anybody have another source for this quotation?

Our church budget (including and especially my compensation) has been slashed; our four-year capital campaign has been terminated (I prefer "postponed," but others insist it's now or never); and our Michigan economy continues to decline--and these things open us to new possibilities. The idea that "the Chinese logograph for 'crisis' combines 'danger' and 'opportunity'" has been debunked (repeatedly). And yet it is also true, that many crises do carry with them opportunities for growth and transformation.

Spirit of Life and Death, Source of Change and Unceasing Love, we desire the strength to see and embrace these transformational opportunities, and the grace to live them out with courage and compassion. So may we be.