A year ago February, I joined with a dozen or so folks in a vigil. On that night, the eve of the Iraq war, we joined thousands, maybe millions in a candlelight prayer vigil for peace. I held my candle aloft into the dark night sky. How could my one candle stop this senseless war? I held it as a prayer, in fervent hope that seemed so utterly hopeless. The forces were building, a whole people would soon feel our shock and awe... and my weapon of defiance and hope? A candle.
The act seemed so futile.
I read today that the Eskimos are concerned about the arctic Caribou and seal as the glaciers shrink. Yesterday, I sat next to gentleman on the airplane who was playing an Army-produced desert storm wargame on his Dell Latitude. He carried AK47 and hand grenades, drove tanks and ATVs. He shot at anything that moved. The screen was littered with bodies... but the bodies melted quickly into clean desert landscape so as to not clutter the game with their mess. The lady across the aisle thumbs through Skymall magazine. She can dial 1-800-skymall to have closet organizers delivered directly to her door.
At this writing, 1002 Americans and thousands of Iraqies have died in a war that has cost our country over $200 billion. Teachers in California can no longer receive a tax credit for buying school supplies for their classrooms. The state says there is No Money.
Yesterday was a "Spare the Air" day in the SF Bay Area. Smoke from a 10,000+ acre fire in the wine country north of Sonoma fills the air. The sun rose into an orange haze.
We are alive at an amazing time. No human generation has lived in a time such as this: where Earth herself shudders to the end of a a geo-biological age. Earth has not seen the extinction of life this great for 65 million years. Why aren't our pundits and megaphones crying and screaming over THAT? Our people rush about, checking wristwatches, buying plastic patio furniture while a whole age of diveristy and life and amazing creation is coming to and end. What worse, we are causing this in some mindless denial. We cannot save something we do not love.
We feel this change in our bones. The animals retreat from our roads and mall parking lots-- it seems as if the bulldozers are the primary weapon in this "War on Terra". The diversity of life on Earth, this amazing, fascinating part of our soul, is in trouble and we so long for this connection that we buy our own ATVs to simulate the thrill of connection.
The election looms like a dark storm cloud in the distance. How do we maintain hope in these times? I feel as if we are all hurtling toward destruction, on autopilot.
Our candles are so small.
I imagine a day when thousands of candles light the night, when we collectively awaken from our insane binge to fully engage our most talented in the work of renewal and resurrection and reconstruction and justice for human and non-human life. This is the only work that matters in these times.
Even a small candle can light a room.