We breathe in, and breathe out, thousands of times, every day. We don’t have to think about it. Our bodies do it automatically. Prompted by a complex physiology of which we might be dimly aware, our chests rise and fall – our lungs inhale and exhale, expanding and emptying – oxygen is absorbed into our bloodstream, carbon dioxide flows out of our nostrils.
As humans, we can live for quite some time without food, much less time without water; but for mere minutes without breathing. Quite simply, it is necessary for us to breathe in order to live.
We breathe in, and out, until we don’t. Breath is ever-present, until it isn’t.
Seared into our collective consciousness now are the last words of George Floyd, ‘I can’t breathe’ as his life was brutally ended on an ordinary day in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just as Eric Garner’s life ended, his breath taken away. As it has been for tens of hundreds of thousands of men and women whose lives have been brutally taken from them, the same words cried out or silent. Now those words are repeated by millions around the country who march and chant, fists raised in the air.
I can’t breathe.
Marchers wear masks, so what is breathed out doesn’t become what the person standing next to them breathes in. Because we are in the time of a pandemic, when anyone might, at any time, be contaminated; be a toxin to the stranger or lover a few inches, or feet, away.
But you have to breathe to march and chant. You cannot hold your breath.
The new Carbon Footprint Calculator national Interfaith Power & Light has been waiting for is finally here! And the developers describe it as “the most peer reviewed carbon calculator out there.” Enter a few basics (like your zip code), and the calculator will automatically set the “default” average settings using information about electricity generation and weather patterns in your area. Then there are a lot of places to play — see the impact of changes you’ve already made, and consider the next steps you might take. Individual, household, and congregational changes are important because Changes we make serve as spiritual disciplines, linking us to stewardship, mindfulness, and gratitude.Individual steps, curious explorations of next steps, and celebrations of progress serve as invitations for others to join us in the work. Shared goals and actions serve to create and strengthen communities of support, curiosity, and care. Personal and community actions give us authentic voices when we speak with policymakers about the bigger changes we need. Some of you may have joined the webinar for a tour and intro.
If you think you might be interested in a future study group to learn together — and reach out in your own congregation — please let us know.
Are you wondering how we are engaging with lawmakers in these extraordinary times? We are working with partners to articulate values and principles that should underpin any work on the urgent tasks of relief, recovery, and stimulus. This use-right-now stimulus priorities sheet was developed by IPL leaders to use for our annual national-network Hill visits (by phone and zoom, this year); broader documents, signed by diverse values-focused partners, are in development. We believe all policy is a covenant with the future.
On June 2nd from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., this one-session event is for people who are interested in leading a book study in a small group that they convene. For several years, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light has been offering practices from the book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. Going around the Spiral of the Work allows people to rest in gratitude for earth; honor our pain for the world and ourselves as we go through this pandemic; see with new and ancient eyes what we are experiencing is part of the Great Unraveling and the Great Turning to a life sustaining society; and Go Forth with a new vision for the future and a sense of community support.
Register now for this one-session event will walk through the outline and details of the 6-session, online book-study-practice series we developed, and which we hope you will now offer either in-person (as circumstances allow) or virtually in your own settings, and with your own audiences/groups.
Daily Sustenance becomes Sips of Sustenance
We are so glad our daily missives have inspired, soothed, touched and stirred you since we started sending them out the week Pennsylvania started its stay at home restrictions. Now it’s time to recognize we’re in a marathon rather than a sprint, and so we’ll be offering sustenance in ‘sips.’
Starting May 17th, watch for two emails a week, one on the weekend, and one mid-week – and, please still send us your suggestions for contributions!
Some of you may have noticed that it’s May! This is the month when our website and newsletter usually feature wheels, pedals and bike helmets. For years, you have read and prayed as the intrepid groups of cyclists pedaled from Pennsylvania to Washington, DC; you’ve “ridden along” with us as we visit, work, eat, and sing with members of host congregations and communities between here and there; and you’ve followed cyclists as they carried their stories (and your commitments) to Capitol Hill for important conversations.
With no opportunity to have an embodied 2020 event like the ones in the past, we are planning a unique bike event celebrating its history, and reflecting on its impact. There will be opportunities for you to participate! Do you have a story about your involvement in our bike trip? Were you inspired to be a rider? By a rider? Tell us about it!
We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections. –Grace Lee Boggs
In these upended times, connectedness is certainly taking new forms and dimensions. In the past few weeks, we have met new friends from across the country at our Around the Spiral: Practices from the Work That Reconnects virtual workshops; attended the annual national conference of Interfaith Power & Light via Zoom; and received notes of gratitude and joy for the daily missives of inspiration we’ve been sending forth.
As this pandemic stretches on, all of us are likely to be touched directly in some significant way. If there’s any truth that shines clearly across the globe in this pandemic, it’s that we are truly, and inextricably interconnected, and interdependent. Again we embrace this truth: we cannot do what needs doing alone, and so are very grateful for all of you, and all you do; and we invite you to join us in these upcoming PA IPL events.
This was first published as March 2020 newsletter. Now that we have fully entered this time of COVID-19, we trust that our members will use resources responsibly — virtually, in-household , or much later. As you will see in other posts, the newsletter included March and April events, an action idea, and a review of our February Annual Conference. We will be adding virtual connecting points and more.
The Cusp of Springtime
Although some would say there was no real winter in 2019-2020, nonetheless, the calendar heralds a change in the season. Thoughts of springtime fuel our March newsletter’s opportunities, and yet we pause first to take in all that is alive and churning within us – and the myriad ways we are called to respond.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. (The Essential Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995)
Please join others around the state as we honor all the ways there are to ‘kneel and kiss the ground.’
Have you made plans to host, or attend, an Earth Hour gathering? It’s not too late! Since 2007, people around the world have paused on a Saturday close to the Spring Equinox – this year March 28th – to ‘power down’ and turn off the lights from 8:30-9:30 pm local time. PA IPL encourages and supports all kinds of Earth Hour gatherings — concerts, house parties, vigils, and celebrations – all opportunities to show reverence for our planet. Two special celebrations in Philadelphia and State College are fundraisers for PA IPL, helping us continue our programming, keeping it affordable and accessible.
NOW is the time for interested cyclists and volunteers to sign up for the 2020 Bike Trip. We are seeking riders from several locations around the state, particularly Philadelphia, State College, and Harrisburg for the new Capital-to-Capital ride, our annual ‘minimal carbon’ event delivering a message directly to elected officials. This year’s trip takes place May 15-19, with a launch overnight on May 14. If you know someone who might be interested in riding, or in supporting the riders, please encourage them to join us! Potential cyclists and volunteers can access a recording of the informational webinar; we’re asking for cyclist registration and commitments by March 31st. Would your business, foundation, community group, or congregation like to sponsor the bike trip? Pass this information on by sharing this newsletter, or this 1/2 page print sheet. PS – watch for the 2020 supporters’ prayer project which is forthcoming!
Faith Climate Action Week
Congregations around the country are gearing up for Faith Climate Action Week April 17-26. This annual “week” of action organized by Interfaith Power & Light calls faith communities to preach, teach, and act for the climate. This year’s theme is Love Made Visible, and includes activities around tree planting, art, and activism or civic engagement rooted in love. There are downloadable resources, or you can order a print kit for a small fee. This year’s suggested film is The Human Elementby filmmaker James Balog, who also made the powerful and beautiful film Chasing Ice.
With more coverage of the growing phenomena of climate anxiety and despair, we are offering more opportunities to gather to strengthen our spirits and resolve. We are just wrapping up our first Engaging Active Hope Virtual Workshop, and are about to offer an in-person workshop in Philadelphia. Would your congregation, school or organization like to host an in-person or online workshop? Please be in touch.
This was first published as part 4 of the February 2020 newsletter. Now that we have fully entered this time of COVID-19, we trust that our members will use resources responsibly — virtually, in-household , or much later. As you will see in other posts, the newsletter included March and April events, an action idea, and a review of our February Annual Conference. We will be adding virtual connecting points and more.
Faith Climate Action Week April 17-26… or anytime during the year!
This annual “week” of action organized by Interfaith Power & Light calls faith communities across the country to preach, teach, and act for the climate. This year’s theme is Love Made Visible, and includes activities around tree planting, art, and activism or civic engagement rooted in love. There will be downloadable resources, or you can order a print kit for a small fee. This year’s suggested film is The Human Elementby filmaker James Balog, who also made the powerful and beautiful film Chasing Ice.
This early spring is the time of year when, if we give our attention, we can see the power of the life force gathering. Pause to notice a swollen or reddening twig. If you have a little snow on the ground, you may see not only the emerging green tips of daffodils, but also the melt right around them, caused by the heat of the metabolism fueling their growth! Make space to share your awe and wonder on a congregational bulletin board or sharing table, and include us by sharing photos, poems, drawings, songs, or whatever you are inspired to create. With your permission, we will post in our online spaces (and we will credit you however you would like).
This was first published as part 4 of the February 2020 newsletter. Scroll up or down for more upcoming March and April events, an action idea, and a review of our February Annual Conference.