Just a Little Rain

An early instance of climate disequilibrium…
Jan 22 2007 The smell of the ocean, thick and fishy this morning. Here in the mountains, four hundred miles away. Strange times. Fish from more southern seas are venturing into Arctic waters looking for the cooler waters that remind them of home. Our home is the entire earth, and by claiming it we have wrecked a stable equilibrium.

April 15, Celo Friends Meeting.
I minister with Joan Baez’ song, “Just a Little Rain” and speak of our moving from worries about rains seeded with Strontium 90 by atmospheric testing to a shift in the entire Earth climate: what have they done to the rain? And then I wonder aloud at the contradiction between what we have wrought and the statement in Genesis that we are made in G-d’s image.

At the end of meeting a young woman reads from Henri Nouwen: once we move into prayer mode, any thought becomes a prayer. Reflecting on my dark thought about our rapacious race, I realize that the infinite depths of compassion, the ability to suffer with the Earth, our fellow human beings, and all the critters and plants, is also in the image of God. We have become as gods, and must therefore be God-like in our compassion for what we have brought to pass, from the Garden to the neolithic sweat of our brows to the doomed global industrial machine. And then, as the Earth takes back her due, back to the garden again, farming the paved cracks in the ghosts of cities. The inner city will be one big vacant lot waiting to be redeemed. And the broken and wounded will be everywhere, desperate for healing. Redemption is mine, sayeth the Earth. May the wave of destruction seed a whole tribe of Mother Theresas, flinging them into those same failed cities.

Feb 25 How can we hold ourselves to our best selves, and continue to build nuclear bombs? How can we hold to our best selves and continue to grow a civilization on the scale we now mount it? How will we hold ourselves to our best while death and destruction rain all around us? When refugees swarm at our borders, our doors? When there’s not enough food for our fellow humans, let alone the creatures whose habitat we’ve robbed. I was hungry and you fed me. That will apply until the end, breaking the last crust of bread with the stranger. But what if it’s a group of fifty desperate starving people? What happens when you must measure out compassion so that one in every eight survives? How will we choose?

I remember my fury when I read a memo from Larry Summers, ex-president of Harvard, economic advisor to Presidents Clinton and Obama, stating cooly that Haiti should be left to collapse because it wasn’t worth the investment in a world with insufficient resources. But what would you or I do? Lester Brown has answers, and so do I; subsistence farming is key. Aran Island and its potato farmers will be gone, but we will farm the cement crannies of crumbling cities as they once did their deep rock crevices, buckets lowered into the darkening loam.


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