Following last Saturday’s Vancouver climate march, I am hopeful.
Yes, these are dark times. Promises made by Canada’s political leaders to take decisive action on climate and a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples seem now like little more than smoke and mirrors. Despite anguished protest and rigorous fact-based analysis, we watch one destructive project approved after another.
To our south, racist demagoguery and climate denial have become the order of the day. The adverse effects of climate change on northern and coastal communities continue to escalate, as does the rate of biodiversity loss, destroyed habitat, and ocean acidification. In our darkest moments, we tremble and despair that we may be past the point of no return.
And yet: I am hopeful.
I have heard a more beautiful song.
This Saturday, I joined with Christians and other people of faith from across Vancouver and its home in Coast Salish territories. We came from a diversity of traditions – Catholic, Protestant, evangelical, Quaker, and more – but were united by agonizing desire to encounter anew the Creator. We needed strength for the urgent work of loving and protecting the rest of creation. We sang. We lamented. We prayed. Then at the heart of our service, we gathered for Communion, re-membering Christ’s body broken for us, now living in us, making us one.
But my favourite moment was when we praised. At one point, we were invited to give thanks for the gifts of creation, following each statement with the declaration: “Praise be to you, O Lord”. In the outpouring that followed, it was like my soul was borne upward on waves of praise, cresting higher and higher, until I could only gape wonderingly around me at a horizon saturated in the glory and majesty of God. Rocks, sun, wind, belugas, trees, salmon, bacteria – everything was already rejoicing in a song of praise. And we simple, slow humans were finally (finally!) joining in.
How then, could I not hope?
If this so-fragile, but oh-so-radiant earth cannot but honour her Creator, then how can all our acts of attentive care and loving resistance be anything but victorious? To hold onto hope is not to deny the darkness but to look into it, to press through it – and to discover a light still shining incomprehensibly bright.
So it was with joy that we ended our gathering for worship. And it was with joy we then joined thousands of others, marching through downtown Vancouver, praying with longing hearts and aching feet for the protection of the earth and of this place we call home.
The struggle is far from over. But in the midst of this era of death, the Spirit of life is moving. People are uniting. Faith is being renewed. And Creation, for all her many wounds, still sings an endless song.
So I say again:
I am hopeful.
Jason Wood is one of the co-founders of Earthkeepers. He’s part of Servants Vancouver alongside his wife Anna, and is currently working at Sole Food Street Farms.