As I was visiting his church last week, a recently widowed man realized that the woman who had cared for his wife was someone I knew, and might see later that day. He asked me to share with her some very high praise. The caregiver, he said, was an amazingly patient and persistent person. His wife in her last several months had been difficult for caregivers, especially when it came to eating anything. My friend would prepare and bring her meals. “I don’t want it, take it away.” was the response. OK. Fifteen minutes later our friend would come back with the same warm food. “You need to eat, __. Your husband and children need you to.” “No! Take it away.” Fifteen minutes later the caregiver would bring the meal again perhaps with a new garnish. “Take it away!” But by the third or fourth or fifth time of gentle persistence, his wife would say, “OK,” and would eat.
A few days later, a church newsletter from a pastoral friend in Hawaii arrived in my mailbox, and she led with a similar message. That friend referenced a famous speech given by Winston Churchill (which might be apocryphal, but i hope it happened as told.) Churchill was asked to give a commencement speech at Oxford University. He’d had a learning disability as a child; mastering the spoken English language did not come easily to Churchill. At the commencement, he made his way slowly forward to the dais and spoke his opening sentence: “Never Give Up.” Then he paused to absolute silence. He began his speech again. “Never Give Up.” A long pause, long silence. Then he completed his speech. “Never Give Up,” and he silently and solely came down from the podium. A standing ovation and thunderous applause followed that three-word, empowering message.
I Think that’s where all people who have awareness about environmental issues perhaps need to be at this time. For over 50 years, environmental advocates have been saying, “Eat (differently). Love and protect the earth (more wisely). Understand that you are part and parcel of a world that needs you (and our neglect or misuse of the world endangers us all and our neighbors and descendants). But a large and powerful section of the neighborhood keeps saying, “No, no, I won’t, you’re lying, go away.”
Other than the oh-so-tempting response of yielding to discouragement and depression, there remains to us the Churchillian/Filipina caregiver response. “Never Give Up.” Keep bringing that healthy meal, perhaps garnished a little differently to fit what we know of the character of the persons with whom we hope to share it. Never give up.
While persisting, we keep learning, too. Two new environmental study opportunities are prepared and being offered by faith communities on the Central Coast. The PFJ-affiliated Central Coast satellite of the international “Center for an Ecological Civilization” is offering via Zoom a seven-week study of an anthology edited by Philip Clayton. The title is The New Possible: Visions of our World Beyond Crisis. The book includes 28 essays from visionaries and activists in nine areas of life, including art, change, ecology, food, governance, and whakawhanamgatanga (Google it; better, get the book.) Six local leaders will facilitate each of the seven sessions on Wednesdays from 2:00 – 3:15, from August 11 to September 22. [Please note: this event has passed.]
The Earthcare Care team of St Benedict’s Episcopal Church has prepared a five-week “Beginner’s Guide to Climate Change.” While the narrowly targeted audience is Episcopal congregations of the Central Coast, congregations of any faith or religion, as well as individuals, could also gain from in joining this Zoom group. Each session includes video presentations and suggested discussion questions, with possible actions. Sessions will be Thursday nights from September 9 to October 7 from 6 — 7:30 P.M. [Please note: this event has passed.]
Never give up. Keep serving up and speaking the truth in love.
Keep learning. — Mike Eggleston