The world is a fragile place.
The Rev. Dr. Anita Schell, St. Ann’s, Old Lyme
Years ago while team teaching a course at Southern Vermont College in Bennington VT, I was struck by what one of the professors said about the critical role our imaginations play in our life as people of faith. In the Tuesday evening Comparative Religions course, my team teacher invited us to look at the imaginary games we played at ages 3 and 4. These games would give us clues as to the pursuits of our later adult years. What games did you play that highlighted your dreams? It’s such a great question!
And, our imaginations are more than pondering our own dreams. Our imaginations can help us to envision how others live, and by imagining, can increase in us greater compassion and the courage to work for change in making a better, just world for all, no matter what the consequences to our comfort levels. Such imagining a better world for all and striving to create concrete steps toward that goal were in evidence last fall at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as “COP26.”
24 lay and clergy delegates from the Episcopal Church representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and The Episcopal Church were led by Bishop Marc Andrus of California. Part of the delegates’ mission was to learn about the state of the climate crisis and efforts to address it, and to bring what they learned back to the wider church.
During COP26, the Episcopal delegates (as well as their Anglican counterparts) communicated their priorities to U.N. member states, participated in meetings and discussion forums, shared updates on social media and hosted events, including a “Liturgy for Planetary Crisis” and morning and evening prayer services. Episcopalians participated virtually from the United States, Europe and South America. Good intentions and work notwithstanding, advocacy to reduce the negative impacts of climate crisis is not felt equally among communities in the United States and around the globe. Fragility is not a uniform experience. As our Presiding Bishop Curry said in a Nov. 12 ABC News interview., “The most impacted [are] Indigenous peoples, people who are tied to the land, poor people.” And “We will see more mass migrations of people looking for food. … These will have an impact on the poorest of the poor.”
Added to the reality of such injustice is the Covid-19 pandemic. As the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote during COP26,
“The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the world to look at how we have been living and operating, when so much of what was considered ‘normal’ was not possible. We have been confronted by our behaviour: by our sin; our greed; our human fragility; our exploitation of the environment and encroachment on the natural world. For many this uncertainty is new. But many more around the world have been living with uncertainty for decades as the grim, real and present consequence of climate change.”
The Creation Care resolution #3 adopted at ECCT’s 2021 Convention specifically addressees this moral crisis with concrete action steps for every single one of us. As with addressing Covid-19 and racism, these resolves are intentional and mindful practices we as people of faith in CT can take in our Christian discipleship. While we know these unjust realities exist, concrete data received from the resolve steps of this resolution will enable us to better serve and support every community of our beloved ECCT, especially and particularly those for whom fragility is exacerbated by these multiple crises.
The world is a fragile place. It has always been so. How can we confess where we have contributed to this fragility and turn to repair brokenness especially for those beings for whom fragility has always been a way of life?