If you’re keeping track of climate news and not in a state of dissociation, despondency, or despair, you have found a secret I hope you can share with the world.
But if you do feel these things, and you have access to therapy but it hasn’t entirely helped, you may be looking more closely at whether there are spiritual cultures or ideas that will give you some relief and support.
You wouldn’t be alone. In the climate change/collapse/preparedness social networks I follow, it is common to see people encouraging each other with spiritual content, and offering first-person testimonies for the power of contemplation or spiritual study as an antidote to climate despair.
Christian resources sometimes come up in this mix. People will share titles and quotes from Thomas Merton, Teilhard de Chardin, or medieval mystics like Hildegaard of Bingen. Some will share the brilliant Papal Encyclical Laudato Si’, by Pope Francis, which opens as follows:
“Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up…