Sunday, December 13, 2009
Walking the Talk
Yesterday Br. Hugh and I participated in an interfaith walkabout. I managed to get to two places, a Jewish synagogue and a Tibetan Buddist temple. The theme at the synagogue was "Sabbath" and the rabbi spoke movingly about the meaning of the Jewish Sabbath; it underscores the core conviction that human beings don't control the world. By taking a regular Sabbath, no matter what is going on, the believer is forced to acknowledge they are not in control. This is God's world.
The rabbi's talk was follwed by an virtuoso performance by a young woman who gently struck a series of gongs and made bird calls. The effect was profoundly moving as the resonant sound of the gongs was embroidered in a way by the different bird calls. I was reminded of a conversation I had with a Solomon Island brother about music. Deeply impressed by the very foriegn sound of the singing in Melanesia I asked him about the source or inspiration of the tunes. "The birds," he answered. So we listened to nature's hymns sung in a Danish synagogue with amazing precision by a young woman: the enormous gilt room was alive with bird calls. How often do I pay such close attention to birds outside? As we left the synagogue I was determined to pay closer attention to God's music in nature.
Our next stop was the Tibetan Buddhist temple. There a nun spoke about karma. If I understood what she was saying correctly, karma means our past actions caused current conditions, and our present behavior will determine the future. This is true both personally and socially (or maybe that is just a connection I made in my mind?) She invited us to think about our ignorant, greedy or agressive behaviors and led us through a meditation, releasing these things with the intention of amendment of life. So much of our climate chaos has been caused by human ignorance, greed and aggression! If we can come to terms with these behaviors in ourselves and our world...
Obviously there are enormous areas of convergence among the world religions and the faith perspective on the climate turmoil in the world.
What was clear to me on the walkabout is that we are all here in Copenhagen to bring moral pressure to bear on the discussions, to help coalesce a consensus about what is wrong and the need to address the situation urgently. I do not know how isolated the delegates are in the Bela Center who are actually working on the documents of the conference, but certainly the rest of us can go back from here with fresh insights, renewed commitment and a deeper understanding of our interconnectedness on the planet.
Today an enormous crowd of people joined in a march. It was freezing cold. There were reports of violence, but I saw nothing of it. The crowd was huge. I was surrounded by a group very happy and friendly Christian Aid youth from Great Britain. But presumably the people "inside" heard about our march, they heard the estimates of the crowd size. They are not working in a vacuum. The world cares. We want them to come up with a binding agreement.