One-Liner Wednesday: climate

“Climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 23
(With the Paris climate talks underway, I am sharing some quotes from the papal encyclical.)

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Advent, mercy, and climate action

“…and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.”

I was struck by this passage from Luke chapter 21 this morning at church as we begin the new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent. Every day there is news on television of some severe weather disaster, whether it is hurricane/typhoon, flood, tornado, drought, heat wave, landslide, ice storm, or blizzard. I am also acutely aware that the nations are gathering in Paris to begin the climate talks which are our best hope to avert the worst level of climate change which would destroy major ecosystems, cause extinction of many species, and kill millions and millions of people.

I realize that sounds very apocalyptic, but these are the effects that science indicates would happen under a “business as usual” scenario regarding the continued burning of fossil fuels.

This afternoon, I attended an event in solidarity with climate activists around the world in preparation for the Paris talks. We were sharing what brought us together and I said that during my years of writing commentary against fracking, while using science and economics in my arguments, I was energized by the moral and ethical grounding that I received from Catholic social justice doctrine, which teaches care for creation and upholding the dignity of each person. I thanked Pope Francis for his encyclical which is addressed not only to Catholics but to all people of good will, which makes clear that we must care for the world and for each other. Francis calls this “integral ecology.”

We do need systemic change and Paris has to be the start of it. Like the wounded-yet-strong city of Paris, the wounded-yet-strong earth needs our love, care, and attention. All the species of the earth need each other to survive and thrive. All the people of the earth bear responsibility for their neighbors, with those with the largest share of the gifts bearing the most responsibility to help those who are most vulnerable.

On December eighth, Pope Francis will open a Jubilee year dedicated to mercy. This is a particularly powerful symbol at this time. The works of mercy include such actions as feeding the hungry and comforting the afflicted. In the letter declaring the Jubilee, Francis writes  of “the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one.” We are called to exclude no one on earth from our love and care at the precise moment when we are facing the challenge of climate change.

The United States and the European nations that have contributed the largest proportion of greenhouse gas emissions must bear the most responsibility as we move forward. Besides making our own rapid shift to renewable energy, we must help less developed nations build their own renewable energy capacity to help and protect their people and environment, as well as extend assistance and welcome to climate refugees.

Today’s reading from the third chapter of the first letter to the Thessalonians begins, “Brothers and sisters:  May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…”  May we all, those who believe in divinity and those who do not, join in an advent of love and mercy to heal our societies and our planet.

It must begin. Now.


We are here at our poetry residency to immerse ourselves in art of all sorts. We are urged to disconnect.

And horrible violence happened or threatened to happen in many places in the world.

I haven’t been keeping up with the news these past few days, reading only a bit and listening to a few conversations with my apartment mates, who are staying more informed than I.

But, even though this time around has its own horrific circumstances, a distinct array of victims leaving behind a particular group of mourning family and friends, the underlying story is all too familiar.

I woke up this morning thinking about the now-shuttered Notre Dame church, sitting there being preserved as a historic landmark, but locked and silent.

I remember when the Drury High School Girls’ Ensemble gave a concert there to raise money to travel to an international competition. They sang an arrangement of “One Tin Soldier.” (Recording by The Original Caste here:

One group makes war on another, who had offered to share its treasure with them, because they wanted it all for themselves. When they moved the stone which was concealing the treasure,

“Peace on earth was all it said.”

I can’t get the song out of my head.

Mass MoCA poetry residency: Sunday

Sleep helps.

I woke up a bit before six and had revisions for my poem that we had workshopped yesterday swirling about in my head. I did a new draft in a different style. Then, I decided to play with writing a kwansaba. One of my poet-friends, Tara Betts, recently published a chapbook titled 7×7 kwansabas (Backbone Press) entirely in kwansaba form, which is seven lines of seven words each. So I did another version of my poem in the form of a kwansaba. I don’t know which of the two works better, but it felt good to be able to write first thing this morning.

I went to 8:30 Mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary church which is just across the street. The church used to be called St. Anthony and was the parish home of my Italian grandparents and many other Italian immigrant families. The building still feels like St. Anthony in many ways. It is located on St. Anthony Drive. The interior design is unchanged. The dedications on the windows and pews are all Italian names. But, continuing my riff of same-but-different experiences, this is not the same church family as it was then.  While there were once five Catholic Churches in North Adams, there is now only one. Technically, the original churches were all suppressed and a new parish formed. As it happens the feast day of St. Elizabeth is coming up and the deacon spoke about her in the homily.

The most important thing for me today at mass was the opportunity to pray corporately for the victims of violence in Paris and for their loved ones. The most beautiful expression was a message from the diocesan bishop, which ended with a call for dialogue and solidarity to create peace.

Mid-morning, we headed to the Tupelo loft for brunch, but there was a bit of a mix-up about groceries, so we snacked and workshopped poems with Jeffrey instead. The early afternoon found some of us continuing to workshop while others went to Mass MoCA. We took a break from workshopping mid-afternoon and all came back together at the loft at five for a couple more hours of workshopping. We heard a lot of wonderful work today. I was excited that there was even a haibun! I so admire all the other poets in our group and am learning so much from every one.

We actually had a homework assignment tonight. It’s unlike anything I have ever done. I’ve given it a shot. We’ll see what happens with it tomorrow.

And, because we have now workshopped one poem from each of us, I may be up again tomorrow.  I have a poem picked out, but may change my mind – several times. And my pulse is up a little bit, just to get me ready for tomorrow.

SoCS: Paris

The only word that comes to mind as indescribable this morning is Paris.
Linda’s prompt for Stream for Consciousness Saturday this week is “Indescribable.” Join us! Find out how here:

SoCS badge 2015


My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris in the aftermath of such horrific violence against them.

If I were at home, I would be watching what I am sure must be 24-hour television coverage, knowing that early reports are often unclear and certainly incomplete, but unable to concentrate on other matters in the face of such heart-breaking suffering.

Here at our poetry residency/workshop, we are meant to be unplugged, but I have used our internet access to read a bit of the coverage online and have decided to write this very early morning post before turning my mind back to poetry as best I can.

For months, those of us in the environmental movement have been using the word Paris as shorthand for the critical international climate summit due to convene there on November 30th. Many world leaders, including President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau, are due to attend.  I have no idea if it was part of the intent of the terrorists to disrupt what is the last, best hope for international accord to protect the earth, but to attack Paris only two weeks before the talks feels like an attack not only against Paris, not only against France, not only against Europe, not only against world governments, but also against the planet itself.

We are all Paris. All bloodied. All in shock. All in mourning. But also united in strength. United in resolve. United in solidarity.

We must be.

The future of humanity and the planet depend on it.

Hope for the climate

This week, the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change was announced, calling for Muslims around the world to phase out use of fossil fuels and switch to renewable forms of energy.

This follows on the heels of the June release of Laudato Si’, the encyclical issued by Pope Francis on the environment, climate change, and care of creation, including humanity. The encyclical draws deeply not only on climate science but also on the tenets of peace, love, mercy, caring, and justice that underlie many different world religions and philosophies. Francis intended this document for the world’s Catholics and “all people of good will” whether or not they follow a religious/spiritual practice.

Faith leaders from other spiritual and religious traditions, including the Dalai Lama, have also voiced their concerns on combatting climate change and environmental degradation.  The People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014 brought people from all corners of the globe together in solidarity to demand action on measures to reign in the greenhouse gases that are already wreaking havoc on our climate and people’s lives.  Various governments have made pledges to cut emissions and convert to renewable energy sources, all as a lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, November 30-December 11, 2015.

Past conferences have been disappointing, as countries could not demonstrate the political will needed for the huge change in energy systems required, but, this time, finally, there is hope, due in large measure to the diverse voices demanding or pleading for change.

I have spent years in the grassroots movement to ban high volume hydrofracking in New York State, which drew me into the fight against fracking in other states, as well as promoting the rapid expansion of renewable energy in order to stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible.  This led me to not only being involved in the climate movement but also to being more open to expressing calls for climate justice, environmental justice, and social justice in keeping with my Catholic faith.

There were many times when I thought we had lost the fight against fracking here in New York (and we are still involved in some issues with it, despite the current regulatory situation). There were even times when I had no hope left, but we did ultimately prevail.

There have been times when I had no hope that meaningful action against global climate change would materialize, but, seeing so many disparate groups of people come together to demand climate action gives me hope.

The years of inaction have put us in a precarious situation. Demand climate action now! Contact the government agency in your country and tell them they must reach an effective accord in Paris.

The world can’t afford to wait.