Wednesday morning, I was asked to lead a centering meditation to open our meeting of the Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition. The meditation draws upon the image of a tropical cyclone which had a certain relevance for us.
Our founder knew about the meditation I’d developed because of an essay published on Gaianism.org earlier this week. I never thought I’d see the day when a minister from the tradition to which I was raised, the doctrinally-conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, would ask me to share a Gaian practice!
Later that day, Hurricane Zeta made a direct hit on our city. I guess this was only the second hurricane we’ve actually weathered in our 21 years here.
At our house we lost power at 4:45pm, as I was halfway through making dinner. Soon after that, the eye of the storm passed right over us. Zeta was a fast-moving storm, which is a good thing.
We were among 480,000 households that lost power in Louisiana alone. Over in Gert Town a man was killed by electrocution from a downed power line.
Mentally, I prepared myself for an outage that might last several days. My family all felt deprived. I was made aware, once again, of how my life is so entangled with high-tech devices, and especially the internet. It’s interesting to note how addicted we are to electricity, and all that implies.
We all know where electricity comes from, and that many of the sources contribute to the atmospheric gasses that contribute to the increasing greenhouse effect that contributes to the warming of the oceans that contributes to the formation of tropical weather systems. I’m sure I don’t have to connect the dots to this record-breaking storm season.
I was given pause to reflect on the Gaian creed, how we are utterly dependent on Gaia. We are also dependent on electricity — but not utterly, though sometimes it feels that way.
I went to the grocery and got a couple 20-lbs. bags of ice yesterday morning. I gave a bag to our neighbors across the street and moved the most perishable contents of our refrigerator to a cooler.
Just as I was texting my co-workers to complain and compare notes, we got our power back. That was 9:45am yesterday morning. So: seventeen hours without power. I was asleep for roughly half of those. Not a long period, really. There are still thousands without power even as I type, probably hundreds of thousands.
When Hurricane Isaac struck in 2012, we lost power for over four days. That was probably the longest period in my life without electricity (with the possible exception of a hiking trip my Boy Scout troop made in the summer of 1980). I wrote some more reflections at that time since I was still blogging regularly:
The upshot, for those in a hurry, is that we could still live mighty fine lives while consuming a fraction of the energy we do now. Further, we urgently need to consume less for the greater good. Nor can this be accomplished through the actions of virtuous individual consumers. Collective action is required. This is why I feel compelled to work with a number of climate justice organizations.