My spiritual practice is both private and ever-changing, so I hesitate to share it in writing. One way in which it matches the climate crisis is that it has intersecting personal and communal aspects.
I stay connected to the Baptist tradition I was raised in through contemplation of select scripture. For example, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God (Romans 12:2). This is how I think about another valued practice: meditation, the renewing of the mind.
It is also a reminder that the current value system—including the ways we measure worth according to money or determine national success by the stock market or the GDP—are far from the ultimate truth. Changing this destructive system requires a change in consciousness. Sacred texts and teachings can fortify us for that work; meditation can illuminate us; action can transform us.
Actions that are grounded in a tangible connection to nature are especially powerful because they facilitate a sense of belonging to the interconnected web of life. In the series I curated at the Rubin Museum in 2018, Native American elder Mona Polacca instructed us on how to greet and acknowledge water as a sacred element, even in simple daily routines. As she explained, this is not only personally soothing but it spiritually prepares us to defend our watersheds—and our climate—against the assaults of pollution.
Ritual is also essential, and we can create it together. During Climate Week NYC, I participated in a ceremony in which the Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli directors of EcoPeace Middle East brought water from the Jordan River—where Jesus was baptized—to the Hudson River (Muhheakantuck in Lenape). Many of my favorite practices converged in this ritual: sharing sacred texts and songs, taking a moment of silent meditation, carrying water in a ceremonial vessel and collectively pouring it into the river, laying down an intention to protect our sacred Earth.
About the Contributor
Karenna Gore is the founding director of the Center for Earth Ethics (CEE) at Union Theological Seminary. CEE bridges the worlds of religion, academia, politics, and culture to discern and pursue the necessary changes to stop ecological destruction and create a society that values life. As the former director of Union Forum at Union Theological Seminary, she helped organize Religions for the Earth, a conference with the goal to reframe climate change as a moral issue and galvanize faith-based activism to address it.