“What is your reason for going on pilgrimage? Are your reasons powerful enough to keep you going through the difficult parts?” (Sally Welch, Making a Pilgrimage)
I read those words before starting the COP26 Relay from Canterbury Cathedral to Aylesford Priory on Friday 30 July. The questions surfaced again and again as we were eating up the 22kms to Wye!
The North Downs, both beautiful and challenging, wild and daunting, took us up steep rocky inclines, down narrow descents often bordered with 5ft high nettles, and through stunning fields of barley.
Along the way we encountered sun, rain and terrific winds as well as the hospitality of local churches and blessings by the clergy. It was an adventure and yes, the reasons for going on this pilgrimage (to highlight the climate change crisis and to support the Young Christian Climate Network’s relay to Glasgow) kept us going through the difficult parts. These reasons also prevented us from focussing on the negative impacts of climate change. The walk was above all, a walk of light and hope.
In her talk ‘Holy Darkness,’ Barbara Mutch refers to the formless void and darkness that exists before God speaks (Gen 1:2). She describes it as a ‘chaotic mess’ but at the same time, this is the arena in which God operates. Chaos, darkness, and emptiness are all part of the story she says, but if we let them, they can draw us towards the light again and again. What I found most encouraging were these words:
‘Our world, no matter how chaotic, dark, empty, or silent is going to become a new world transformed by the mystery of God’s life-giving speech...It is in the speech of God that all things will be made new, and it is the will of God to stay with the world, even us, until it, and we, become as God fully wills and intends. For in and through Jesus, God's powerful speech is still being spoken and God’s powerful wind is still blowing.’
How are we using the ‘chaotic mess’ of climate impact around the world to draw others towards the light? What does our speech reflect as we talk to our young? Do our actions bring light and hope?
One thing which will really make a difference to decision makers is demonstrating that there is public hunger for change. Can we support the kind of radical interventions that are needed? This is where the actions we have been pushing for all year come in. Now is the time for action so please consider:
• holding a Climate Sunday service and register it on the website www.climatesunday.org/register
• joining the service on 5th September, where all those registrations will be used to demonstrate that public hunger - Nations' Climate Sunday Service: Churches Prepare for COP 26
• keep going with Eco Church – for real world changes and more of that ‘public hunger’ demonstration.
May we always refuse to stay in the chaos and darkness of unknowing or inaction.
Revd Joyce Addison