I was abundantly blessed to spend six days on the Connecticut River with my son and a couple of other pilgrims as part of the 40-day River of Life Pilgrimage. Those days were marked by inner peace, deep connection to the Spirit that breathes in God’s creation, and a keen awareness of the beauty and dynamic grace of nature. In my last blog I wrote that one hymn was the soundtrack of this trip for me.
“The River is flowing…Holy Spirit guide me, your child I will always be”
That sense of peace and being “the Holy Spirit’s child” was there even on the one stressful day. After massive rain storms in New Hampshire which left many without power, the river in Massachusetts and Connecticut rose dramatically and the current was very fast. There were downed trees and large limbs floating in the water. Our guides gave paddlers the option to sit out that day if they were worried about handling these conditions. My son Geoff and I (and most other pilgrims) decided to “go for it.” I did not feel stressed. I felt “alert” and trusting. After a few early challenges, everything went smoothly.
Within that sense of peace and trust, another reality surfaced. During one of our breaks, sitting on the bank of this beautiful river, Lisa, one of our chaplains, read this poem:
It’s 3:23 in the morning
And I’m awake
because my great great great grandchildren won’t let me sleep my great great great grandchildren ask me in dreams what did you do while the Planet was plundered?
what did you do when the Earth was unraveling?
Surely you did something when the seasons started failing?
As mammals, reptiles, birds were dying?
Did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?
What did you do once you knew?
What did you do…once…you knew?
— by Drew Dellinger
That poem would have haunted me anytime, anywhere; but read in the context of this sacred journey down the river, it touched my soul deeply.
“What did you do once you knew?” I wrote a lot of letters with Massachusetts bishops and UCC leader Jim Antal.
I followed the lead of our Creation Care Missioner, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, and participated in public prayer witnesses in several venues.
- Bishop Fisher speaks at Springfield climate rally
- We Are The Earth: Prayers for the Planet
- Bishop Joins Interfaith prayers for the Planet at B’nai Israel
I tried to reduce my own carbon footprint.
Is that enough to respond with integrity when my great great great grandchildren keep me awake at 3:23 am? No, not even close.
“Guide me Holy Spirit, your child I will always be.” We are not in charge…and everything we do matters.