A wave of orange, a sky of red
Even the ocean is on fire, from our greed to be fed.
Fed not by the food that this land provides.
But in status, convenience and selfishness we hide.
Through the records of heat, we survive and complain.
But some don’t survive and our burden is shame.
It’s a shame politicians’ motives often wain,
It’s a shame our recycling is so often in vain,
It’s a shame that our system seems set up to fail.
It’s a shame what is hidden beneath the veil.
It’s a shame that we can’t just click start again.
To have a blank canvas and somehow erase the pain,
When did the stone cold faces of kings and queens,
hold more value than current human beings?
When did children’s cries not break hearts so tough
Why did no-one have the humanity to say ‘enough is enough’
Have we numbed our emotions that we did not see
Did we not hear the earth cry out ‘let me be free’?
And when did we think it was ever okay,
To think plastic in the ocean would simply decay?
How can there be justice when so much hurt has been done?
How can there be love in a world where it seems evil has won?
If our ears aren’t burning, if our eyes look the other away,
If our voices remain silent because we think we’re okay,
Then the noise will be too deafening for our ears to hear,
Our eyes will not see through the smoke and the tears,
Our voices will be silenced because we just didn’t care.
Were we really too ignorant to be fully aware?
So, when will the first sign of spring appear?
Will it be daffodils in December before the message is clear?
How many deaths? And anger so strong it burns
What will it take for us to stop, listen and learn
Is it too late to begin to hope?
Or does new life begin from a message awoke?
How can there be healing after such pain
Knowing that nothing can ever be the same
Amongst the ash is a song unfurled
We need to repair this broken world.
What I just read were some thoughts that formed into a poem in a few moments of despair this week, as I look at the state of the world, of the horror of things unfolding so close to home, my own privilege and the blood on my hands as a settler in this place. I acknowledge with gratitude that the land on which I live and work are the unceded and stolen territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.
Just a warning, this sermon today will not be a deep dive into our scriptures, this week feels like just too much has happened and the time is for us to listen. This week we have watched the horrific devastation of the town of Lytton BC. Lives and places gone. People’s lives changed, as overnight they went from living in a town talked about as a statistical anomaly, to climate refugees who no longer have a home or a town to call their own. The heat and wind caused what meteorologists described this weekas a ‘blowtorch affect’, Lytton was set alight and lost.
Our prayers go out to the people of Lytton this week, but unfortunately, their tragedy may be a sign of more things to come. Lytton resident Gordan Murray described his town as‘a microcosm of climate change’ and ‘the canary in the coalmine’, when it comes to climate change and how rural communities are at threat. With so many wildfires now burning, and with temperatures increasing year upon year, we have to wonder what kind of world we are preparing ourselves to live in through the years ahead.
This week at Christ Church Cathedral we opened our doors, to people wanting to escape the heat, as our sanctuary became a ‘cooling station’. But the heat is very much on in more ways than oneas we see churches around this countryset alight in anger and disgustfor the part that we have played in the residential school system and the deaths of hundreds, and what will ultimately be uncovered as thousands of children, buried in unmarked graves, stolen away from their families.
Watching an Anglican Church burnt to ground this week in Gitwangak, in Northern BC will obviously cause many of us to feel pain, but we must recognize that the pain that we have caused is far beyond wood and brick and losing memories of a place does not match losing our children.
Learning to listen to those who have a complaint against you is a principle that I hold as important in my life and my ministry, and in this time of wrestling with the news of this week I want to share a perspective that maybe hard to listen to for some of us, but I think contains wisdom and encouragement.
This is the perspective of Dr. Zoe Todd, a Metis philosopher whose critique of our collective response to climate change, says that the dominant Western Christian logic, shows evidence of an unhelpful theological position that dictates an unrealistic motive to change. She states “white settlers must stop pretending the baseline lands/waters/atmospheres [that] their [our] ancestors violated over the last 600 years were ‘Eden’. Your Eden, your Walden pond, your Banff, your ‘nature’ was built on genocide.You don’t get to despair its loss without acknowledging this…because Christian thought has a history of preaching a negative theology of sin. Western capitalist imperial societies cannot imagine the end of worlds beyond certain and unavoidable apocalypse because the end of worlds in this (even secular) worldview is either heaven or hell —there is no room for refraction, renewal, repair, or humility”
That’s hard to listen to, isn't it? And whether we agree or disagree with this kind of message. We have to listen to it. We have to recognize the size and the impact our voice in the Church has had through a period of time where such harm has been caused.
So how can we repair the world? How can we repair our relationships? Not to make everything go away, but true reconciliation. Repair & reconciliation cannot happen until truth has been spoken, Archbishop Desmond Tutu says “Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth.”
We are not done telling our truth. And right now, the truth is breaking free. The secrets buried in the earth must be heard. And we need to listen to the “canary in the coalmine” the signs of things yet to come. Our abuse of this earth and the people who reside upon it, cannot be repaired unless we look to the very core of our societal structures. To listen learn and make real actual changes and take action.
A lot of people are hurting right now, and the Gospel message this morning of Jesus in his hometown is helpful as we think about where we listen,and our need to listenit speaks to where we place our trust, our commitment and our energy. With so many narratives of ‘injustice’ and ‘perceived injustice’ in the world, we have to today use our wisdom to recognize and respond to genuine hurt.
The rallies and protests on Canada day reflect a country that has failed to tell its truth. Now is a time of anguish and pain and it is our job as the Church to respond by listening. Not just hearing words, but deep listening, one that takes to heart not just the words but the energy, emotion and anguish. Listening not to have it over with, but to sit with, even if it hurts. Listening that demands a response. Listening that demands change. By listening and amplifying the voices of those who are not heard. By listening to earth and evidence we see before us, by ultimately making changes that sacrifice our own comfort, not just once, but often; only then might we make room, over time, for repair.
Robin Wall Kimmerer in “Braiding Sweetgrass” says: “To love a place is not enough, we must find ways to heal it”