December update

Dear friends, it is the shortest day of the year here in North America as I write this note. Darkness has been taking up more and more of each day.

Now, however, the days will begin to turn again towards spring, and light will begin to creep into more and more of my awareness. Usually this time of year is full of the deep silence of snowfall for me, with banks of snow quieting the birds and sheltering the plants. 

This year it is gray and raining, and breaking records for warmth.

It is hard not to despair as I listen to the anguish of the earth. Voices of pain, voices of suffering, enormous rounds of human violence. The silence of species who have disappeared forever haunts me. In the midst of this time I turn to music, I turn to poetry, I turn to wherever I can find glimpses of God in beauty.

Here is a music video created by VOCES8 (an acapella singing group) as they sing Paul Smith’s “Distant Earth Renewal,” visualized through Stephen Proctor’s landscape cinematography:

VOCES8 Distant Earth Renewal

By way of project update, I want to note that the earth stories project continues to grow. This past month I’ve held several different exercises with people, including a full day’s workshop with the ELCA Minneapolis synod’s ecofaith network, and several smaller exercises with the Justice Seekers group of Carondelet Village here in St. Paul.

This work brings me hope as well, for when people turn to each other and listen deeply, stories emerge which honor grief and anguish, and in doing so bring hope and love into view. I will post those stories as their creators make them available at my project website:

If you are anywhere close to Oshkosh, Wisconsin on January 20th, join us for a full day’s workshop at the First Congregational Church there (register here)

Three other resources you might find helpful are:

books to help you rethink your relationship with nature

Creation Justice ministries resource hub

US Institute of Peace Guide to Religion and Reconciliation

May you enjoy blessings of peace in this season,

Mary Hess