Protecting the Sacred
Sacred the land,
Sacred the water,
Sacred the sky,
Holy and true,
Sacred all life,
Sacred each other,
All reflect God who is good.
– Franciscan Brother Rufino Zaragoza, OFM
Last Friday night was the first time I uttered this refrain. As I sang, I felt a sense of gratitude to know the significance of these words and to feel the conviction of knowing that I have a responsibility in protecting that which is sacred.
My gratitude expanded when to my left and to my right were like-minded people. I was in the company of new and familiar faces, young and old, all gathered at the Dorothy Day Catholic worker house here in Washington, D.C., for a talk on climate change and the seven principles of Catholic Social teaching led by Sojourners’ own Rose Berger. More than 50 people were present; among them were 25 extremely bright and articulate students from Bishop McNamara High School.
My feelings surprised me. I knew this wasn’t going to be a high-profile event, but I didn’t know I’d witness such a rare intergenerational discussion about a complex problem. To the students, climate change is not an elusive issue that is invisible. For them, it’s personal: more severe allergies, asthma complications, unusual weather, and the disappearance of entire seasons. They know that something is not right with our planet.
We didn’t come up with any remarkable solutions that night, but it was refreshing to know that climate change is relevant to this smart group of kids.
At the end of the discussion all who were gathered organized for a picture. We held dots that would be submitted to Climate Impacts Day, a global effort by 350.org where citizens around the world hold up “dots” for things like “no snow” and “drought” to help people connect the dots about climate change. Without hesitation they stood and grabbed their dots, and it’s with that same eagerness that I was moved by their engagement. We may still have a long way to go stop global warming, but after Friday night I have hope.
Karla T. Vasquez is the mobilizing assistant at Sojourners.