by Vickie Machado (Eco-Steward alum and Program Leader)
“The tide is rising and so are we…”
Last month young adult leaders from around the country gathered in Seattle to reflect on how to navigate the environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest with regards to climate change and fossil fuel transport within the context of Christian faith. Collectively our group of seven EcoStewards and four leaders examined Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. We reflected upon these words on the shores of Lake Washington and Bellingham Bay, while connecting them to the actions of many of the people and organizations we visited.
Folks at the Sightline Institute introduced us to the danger coal trains pose to many small towns as cargo loads bring the possibility of explosions, coal dust, and traffic issues rather than the promise of local jobs. Earth Ministry discussed their push to engage churches in these issues primarily teaching churches to act as allies to local Native American tribes. Wednesday we met with the Backbone Campaign as they offered insight into artful activism and their success in the mass organization of kayaktivists to stop oil rigs and protest fossil fuel extraction and transport. And finally, the Lummi Nation graced us with their stories and wisdom as they shared the generations’ long fight for equality and their more recent move (and victory) to prevent construction of a coal terminal at Cherry Point.
In all of these instances, words from the encyclical and deeper understandings from our faith tradition appeared as we navigated how to serve God while caring for creation and our fellow brothers and sisters. We contemplated this call while meeting with others, communally preparing and sharing meals, singing songs, worshiping together, sharing our personal eco-faith journeys, exploring the city by public transit, and kayaking Puget Sound. Within this week we learned and grew from those around us, recognizing the impact we all have in our world and that it takes every bit of effort to make a difference. The tide may be rising, but as Rabbi Shochana Meira Friedman’s song says, “the world is ready and so are we.”