Wendy Clarissa Geiger: On Climate Crisis

Friend Wendy Clarissa Geiger in Jacksonville, Fl.

I’m honored to be on the receiving end of epistles from Quaker Friend Wendy Clarissa Geiger, peacemaker, poet, planter, and purveyor of historical memory, who roots herself on her family farm near Jacksonville, Florida. In her recent letter she intersects with my earlier blog post Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation and beyond. Here is Wendy’s note from yesterday:

Dear Friends, Family, and Other Scattered Pilgrims, a Wendynote re Climate Crisis,

First, a story.  In the eighties, in East Germany, there appeared a notice on a church door that basically read: Those interested in making sure the Berlin Wall comes down a thousand years from now, and discuss what we must do, now, for the Berlin Wall to come down a thousand years from now, meet in the church basement on Saturday…

A small group met, growing larger and larger, with more groups forming, as the months went on.  More and more creative protests as the months went on.  Of course, there was solidarity protesting to bring down the Berlin Wall in West Germany, in the United States and elsewhere.  In only a few years, in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, much sooner than “a thousand years from now.”  At Checkpoint Charlie, many, many persons danced atop the Wall as it was coming down, singing “We Shall Overcome.”  Soon thereafter, on “McNeil-Leherer News Hour,” a representative from a conservative U.S. think tank admitted that it was the Peace movement that brought down the Wall, not Ronald Reagan. 

Recently, I read of a paper on Climate Crisis (as I call it – not “Climate Change”) that has been so harrowing to contemplate once read, folk are seeking therapy and forming support groups.  Last night, I printed: the paper “This Is a Crisis – Facing Up To the Age of Environmental Breakdown,” initial report from the Institute for Public Policy Research, February 2019, a report from a progressive think tank that incorporates awareness of the paper’s contents, though this report reportedly is not as dire as the original paper; and, “The Climate Change Paper So Depressing It’s Sending People to Therapy,” by Zing Tsjeng, February 27, 2019, about the paper.  The original paper is by Jem Bendell BA (Hons) PhD, of the Institute of Leadership and Sustainability at the University of Cumbria in the United Kingdom. Here is the link to the pdf of “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy” by Jem Bendell (IFLAS Occasional Paper 2).

So, Dear Friends, what must we-you-I do now, so there will be a livable and living, viable, healed and healing Planet Earth “a thousand years from now?”  In the tradition of Thomas Berry: Planet Earth is leaving the Anthrocentric Age and continuing into the Ecocentric Age…with or without humans…  

In school, we learned that centuries ago, some (some…not all) people thought Earth was the center of the Universe.  Now, how will life on Earth be when humans are not the center?…when White folk are not the center?…when the United States are not the center?…when men are not the center?…  Will humans transform?  Will we “disappear from view,” to use Thomas Merton’s words, and commit omnicide (not suicide or genocide, but all…omnicide…)?  As in: humans have to be the center of attention or nothing at all (and take everyone else with us).

There are two books to contemplate that I recommend, both by Carolyn Baker: Navigating the Coming Chaos – a handbook for inner transition and Collapsing Consciously.  A third book I recommend is Coming Back To Life, by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown.  That book describes many of the thinking and body-moving exercises done in workshops.  Her talks may be found on www.youtube.com , and her website is www.joannamacy.net .  There are dvd’s about “The Work That Reconnects,” as Joanna Macy calls her work (workshops, lectures) around the world.  On YouTube may be found Joanna Macy addressing the Bioneers Conference (about 9 minutes long, as I recall).  Related, “The Souls Are Coming Back” is a marvelous, compelling, encouraging song by Holly Near, also, on YouTube, also, sung to the Bioneers Conference.  Also, on YouTube, may be found Holly Near (and Emma’s Revolution) singing “I Am Willing” (another marvelous, compelling, encouraging song) to the School of the Americas Watch gathering 10+ years ago.

For soul-work encouragements, find Alice Walker interviews on YouTube.  There’s one interview done in England regarding the documentary, “Beauty In Truth,” about Alice Walker’s life.  An awesome 58:32 minute talk she gave at Stanford University on November 8, 2017, is titled “Taking the Arrow Out of Your Heart” on YouTube and originally titled, “Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart: Noticing Where You are, and Who or What Is There With You.”  The YouTube description reads: “Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, shares her perspective on cultivating resilience and equanimity by mindfully tending to the painful wounds caused by sorrow, anger or despair.”  At 6:00 or 6:40 minutes or earlier, she speaks of why she’s wearing what she’s wearing: Dennis Banks had transitioned just 10 days before her talk, and she is in mourning.  She goes on to speak movingly of Dennis Banks’ “entire” life.  SpiritBrother-of-my-heart…  Today, Leonard Peltier’s support committee, with an office in Tampa, with Leonard at Coleman (prison), let us know Leonard Peltier’s request for a transfer closer to family was denied.  From the Other Side, Dennis Banks must be helping Leonard Peltier endure, continue, in inspiration and longing.  Wounded Knee…wounded heart-mind….wounded Earth.

Most nights, I watch YouTube videos on minimalism, The Minimalists, etc.  So many of these vlogging minimal lifestyle (simple living) folk advise giving up anyone or anything that does not bring joy, happiness, contentment, etc.  Well, facing Climate Crisis?…I wonder if these folk are encouraging denial…It seems so.  And, maybe, that’s my own denial.  A decade or so ago, as co-clerk of Worship & Ministry Committee of Southeastern Yearly Meeting www.seymquaker.org , I asked wise Friend Joel Cook what the Committee could do about the Climate Crisis.  Without missing a beat, Friend Joel responded, “What SEYM Worship & Ministry Committee can do about the Climate Crisis is help meetings deepen our experience of worship so that we may more easily hear what God is asking us to do about the Climate Crisis.”  His response went something like this.

You have my permission to share this letter.  One last thing, an encouragement, a message I delivered during Quaker meeting for worship this past Sunday: God is not complete without you.

Gentle blessings of lovingkindness,

Wendy Clarissa Geiger, Jacksonville, FL, Saturday, March 9th, 2019

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