We had a violent microburst blow through our neighborhood this past week. We got hail, sixty-mile-per-hour winds, and almost an inch of rain in under an hour. We lost electricity for over two hours, and lost electricity again the next day as crews continued repairing multiple downed power poles and removing damaged trees. (I found myself feeling quite grateful that we had removed our second palo verde before the monsoon season arrived!)
Once the storm passed, Henry and I went out walking. I was curious to witness the effectiveness of our neighborhood’s water retention-basin system. The network of sunken pathways seemed to work pretty well in collecting the massive flow of water, despite the volume flowing along our street in the height of the storm. One sight I captured (see above—it couldn’t have been too sanitary!) was two teens trying to float on rafts in one of our instantly created ponds.
During this same week, crews in northern Arizona have been battling a wildfire very close to Flagstaff. Much further north, multiple regions of the Arctic are experiencing unprecedented wildfires as our planet continues to suffer from a climate crisis. With ponds in the desert and wildfires in the arctic, Mother Earth is clearly struggling. I find myself wondering what will come next.
I recently had lunch with a friend and found myself saying that it was hard to find hope these days—but if I don’t, who will? My grandchildren and great-grandchildren need a habitable planet to call home, as do the various creatures I glimpse outside my office window and the plants whose photographs I share on Instagram. I feel compelled to do something about this looming climate catastrophe.
Yet perhaps, paradoxically, much of my work is acknowledging my powerlessness and sitting in prayer with the unknowns. Too often these days, our culture challenges us to be in charge, to take action and rescue the world. But, as I was reminded in church yesterday (another good reason to post on Mondays), a habit of prayer will do more than anything else to bring us into alignment with God.
It is important to be realistic about what we are not called to do. We must hand over to God our fears and worries about what we cannot change. Then, perhaps, from the stillness of our hearts, we will hear God’s voice, helping us discern what to release and what small steps we can take.
For example, I cannot make this country rejoin the Paris climate accord, but I can choose to live a simpler life and do what I can to lower my personal carbon footprint. I can also educate myself and push my legislators to take action. I recently began receiving information and Action Alerts from the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations. One recent post is on the climate crisis and includes some concrete, realistic steps we can take as a nation toward addressing elements of this broader climate crisis.
We are always called to prayer. When we are overwhelmed (as I admit I am some days), we could retreat into hopelessness and do nothing. The ponds then will become lakes, then oceans, and eventually drown us all. Instead, we need to pray and listen as God works in our hearts, aligning them with a divine larger picture we often cannot possibly imagine.
Do you have a habit of prayer? Might it need a tune-up or a recommitment, especially in the face of hopelessness and powerlessness?
I will send you a private email as I want to send you a picture …. but thank you for this reflection …
You’re welcome, Joyce! I’m glad my reflections sparked some for you.
Yes, my prayer life needs a tune-up! Yesterday’s message was about Abraham petitioning God repeatedly to save Sodom and Gomorrah. And Jesus teaching the disciples the Lord’s Prayer. Could you be any plainer God? Sheesh!
As to the environment, I recently have become very aware of all the single use plastic that’s clogging our lives. And I’ve become committed to reducing my use and thereby carbon footprint. I’m using my own net bags, baskets and carry out cloth bags. But then again, I’ve been doing that since the mid-80’s! I also recently went to Trader Joe’s and looked at all the plastics in just their produce section! Breaks my heart that we have become such polluters for the sake of convenience and so called sanitation. I too want a cleaner sustainable world for grandchildren (which I don’t have yet!) because that’s what God has called us to do-take care of His Creation.
I’m really enjoying having your blog on Mondays! I look forward to reading them to start my week. So I guess that means I’m off to find my Bible and pray …
Love and hugs and blessings
Hello, Nila. I’m so glad that this post spoke to you, and that you got the message! I pray that your time with Bible and prayer is blessed, today and always….
As a caregiver, I have received great support and guidance from subscribing to writings from Al-Anon. I substitute my husband’s illness for the word alcoholism, and I am always reminded that I have not caused the problem, I can’t control it, nor can I cure it… After reading this marvelous reflection of yours today, I realize that perhaps the Al-Anon path is a good prayer choice in dealing with some of the helplessness we are facing with climate change and political upheaval. Certainly it is true that some days either my life or my thoughts, or both, have become unmanageable, and it is so important to be reminded that there is a higher power, however we may define that.
Ah, Barbara, what a beautiful idea! Thank you for sharing it, because you’re right; we cannot control or cure so much in this world. It’s an excellent prayer for clarification—and a reminder to turn to prayer.