Seeking: Right Response

[This post is dedicated to the West Coast Climate Riders, 2013, who will pedal their bikes 320 miles from Fortuna, CA to San Francisco’s City Hall between May 19-24th.  Thank you, Climate Riders — Have a GREAT Ride!!!]

Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb.

– Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B

 

God made so many different kinds of people; why would God allow only one way to worship?

– Martin Buber

 

I had assumed that the Earth, the spirit of the Earth, noticed exceptions — those who wantonly damage it and those who do not. But the Earth is wise. It has given itself into the keeping of all, and all are therefore accountable.

– Alice Walker

There is phrase used in Buddhist circles, “radical acceptance,” it refers to the uninvited, unwanted circumstances or conditions in our lives and the often challenging – though ultimately liberating – practice of making peace with them.

 

Biking California Photo: MMaggenti

Biking California  Photo: M Maggenti

 

Radical acceptance is bravery in action.  And for me, the precursor is feeling fiercely that which I radically, or otherwise, can NOT accept.  (Do you know the ones?)  I’ll share the one plaguing me right now:

 

“On May 9th, for the first time ever, the carbon dioxide counter on the side of Mauna Loa, the most important scientific instrument on earth, recorded a daily average of above 400 parts per million. It’s a grim landmark — it’s been several million years since CO2 reached these levels in the atmosphere.” – BillMcKibben, www.350.org

 

Climate Ride Friends

Climate Ride Friends

I can’t argue with a number.  There’s nothing to finesse or negotiate.  I will accept the number….but the human behavior in response to that number and what it means?  UN-acceptable.

 

Or is it?  And who am I to say?  I am seeking the right response and I’m asking each of you, what is it?

 

What is the right response to a mess we have created, a mess that is accelerating, a mess that forecasts massive loss, systems breakdown, and suffering for so many?

 

Climate Ride Puppy Pile!

Climate Ride Puppy Pile!

I welcome your ideas and I love to hear from you.  In the meantime, my thinking is this…

Respond!!  Do something and ordain it.  It can be big and dramatic.  It can be daily and ordinary.  Experiment.  Try both!!! Listen to someone under the age of 13.  Whatever you choose to do, honor it for the Holy act that it is – know that it is prayer, empowerment, connection.   In this church, called Earth, we are ALL men and women of the cloth and every action is sacred.  Can I have a witness??

 

Climate Ride - City Hall Rally!

Climate Ride Finish – City Hall!

 

The Tar Sands? Let’s RE-create our Behavior

[This post belongs in a series of 7 entries written to build community and receive donations to support the Climate Ride, a 320 mile cycling pilgrimage I made in October, 2011.  Several entries focus on and celebrate the particular efforts of each of the 4 NGOs I designated to receive funds I raised for the ride.]

 

Happy Long Weekend!

Last Friday, I featured The East Bay Bike Coalition, a local organization doing work that’s close to my heart, in my neighborhood.  I would be remiss, this week, if I didn’t recognize 350.org, a national organization making grassroots activism an international sensation…AND whose founder,BillMcKibbenwas arrested this week while protesting the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline.

This week: 350.org http://www.350.org/

Their mission: 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.

Geek Treat:  To preserve our planet the way we like to live on it, scientists say we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm. Using grassroots wizardry (social media) and brilliant simplicity (people & cameras), 350.org invites change at the global level.  At the end of 2010, they coordinated a climate art project so large it had to be photographed from a satellite in outer space.  WoooHOOOOOOO!

 

And now… Let’s RE-create our Behavior

 

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

–         AlbertEinstein

Climate Change is slow and sneaky in its signs; it doesn’t register for humans with the same urgency another crisis might.  The non-profit, 350.org invites us (YOU and ME) to create educational tools and visuals to translate the brain-bending concepts into ideas that invite behavior change. Thank you, 350!

 

So are we changing our behavior?  As we head into the Labor Day weekend, I’m thinking about the word, “recreation.”  It’s what we do on weekends, right?  Especially 3-day ones, that are set-aside to honor our “labors,” and take a break, no?  And while it isn’t always true, I’m struck by how often our acts of recreation are actually creation destructive (i.e., energy-intensive electronics, resource-depleting cruise trips or golf courses).  What if the word were, “RE-Creation?”  With some creative reframing (see 350.org above), can we care for Creation through our recreation?

 

Today marks the 13th day of a 14-day sit-in at the White House to protest the Keystone Tar Sands oil pipeline.  Since it began, over 800 people have been arrested in one of the largest environmentally-focused acts of civil disobedience in U.S. history.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/opinion/tar-sands-and-the-carbon-numbers.html?_r=1

 

And the Tar Sands?  The Alberta, Canada Tar Sands produce over 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per day, more than 1.3 million cars. Tar sands are the 2nd largest pool of carbon on earth (Saudi Arabia’s oil takes 1st)…and one of the biggest greenhouse gas offenders.  Why?  The extraction of petroleum from tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does.  Currently, Canada plans to double its tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day – a rate that will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir.

Invisible Man, Credit: Liu Bolin/Eli Klein Fine Art

 

To me, this is a big invitation to Re-Create and behave differently.  After all, some of the best economy-enhancing ideas we’ve had this year have been about renewable energy, green jobs and closed-loop thinking.   Tomorrow, while I’m on a training ride, getting high off the California Redwoods’ oxygen offerings, those brave, creative activists at the White House will deliver a petition asking Obama to ban this silly, uninventive pipeline idea.  If you haven’t signed yet, you have time.  Go here: http://act.350.org/sign/tar-sands/?rd=1
Thank you all so much for your support!

 

Go Ahead, Spend it ALL!

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing on to future generations.”  (George Bernard Shaw)

 

On October 24th—United Nations Day—people around the planet performed hundreds of actions, stunts and demonstrations of earth stewardship as part of the largest climate awareness day in history. The goal was to build an international campaign that visibly joined science, action and justice to advocate for climate protection.

The day focused on “350,” the number that scientists have determined to be the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. It can seem a bit overwhelming, I know, but breathe with me for one geeky moment: CO2 gets measured in “parts per million” (ppm), so 350 ppm is the number we must get below globally to sustain ourselves safely on the planet.

Trees for Sky

For many of us, if we don’t understand what’s behind a number, we’re likely to forget it or brush it off as “someone else’s math problem.” Cleverly, 350.org (the non-profit behind the campaign) decided to de-bunk the scientific complexity by creating a different kind of PPM—a “people powered movement.”

So, beginning at dawn in Australia and straight on ‘til twilight in Hawaii, people around the world put a human face on 350: aerial photographs captured large 3-5-0s formed by sailboats in the ocean and by humans clustered on land ravaged by clear-cutting; 350 flags were raised on mountaintops from Mongolia to Antarctica to Yosemite. Trees were planted, church bells rung (350 times!), clowns paraded, and yogis meditated in great imaginative surges of collective vision for all who would receive it.

I spent that morning in the Oregon woods, with a child, named Eliana. Ellie, as she’s called, is nearly two. Together with her Mom, we walked through the crisp air, pausing often—enchanted by the hush of the forest and halted by the golden, red and amber leaves. It was, most certainly, the best climate awareness prayer I could offer at that moment.

“Ellie, do you see how big this leaf is?”  I inquired.

Instinctively, she took it in her small hand, as one might a small banner. With one in each hand and with focused fascination, Ellie tottered down the path, flapping her butterfly-leaf wings. The leaves were so big that they wrapped about her torso. In the autumnal light, their color was nearly iridescent.

Ellie and Lauren in Revelry

How do leaves attain this annual greatness and why, then, do they fall? … I’m not really asking for the how or why. Yet I do feel beyond-grateful for nature’s senseless beauty, generosity and surrender.

A great love for our precious, priceless, precarious earth fueled 5,200 events in 181 countries last Saturday.

Thai Buddhist teacher,AjahnChah, instructed, “Do everything with a mind that lets go. Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else. If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.”

Botany does everything with a mind that lets go. Flowers don’t hold back or wait for the hummingbird’s praise. Have you ever seen a zucchini in August “think small”?  And now, the leaves. They are not self-consciously withholding; rather, they let go…lavishly so!

In this way Nature shows us to let go, to pour forth, to share our fullest “leaf-selves” generously without fear, expectation, or reservation. Upon reaching the ground, each leaf, thoroughly used up, is received by greater fecundity still. A rich regenerative cycle will support it on its way to re-birth and fruition once more.

Similarly, when our own practice of letting go releases us from thinking small and crawls up from our Divine root system, we can spend our lives and our love freely, faithfully letting go, without attachment to outcomes. We can join withGeorgeBernardShawand, “rejoice in life for its own sake….and burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

So…let it go!  The planet is inviting humans everywhere to act.

How will you serve the people powered “350”?

Surrender your beauty; give it away and use it up. There is plenty more where it came from.

NOTE: To see nature’s beauty, generosity and surrender in action in the human form, you might enjoy the slideshow waiting for you at: http://www.350.org.

And if those photos feel too global, go local by spending some time with Mother Earth and your favorite child.