Time for the annual letter. First, I hope you are well. It has been a year filled with joy and sorrow. May was a great month with a few fundraisers in the park and the Girl Scout meetings. I really enjoyed the pick-up soccer games this summer. Sadly, Marley Maple died in October and it was sad to see her go.
Over the last month, I have watched the celebrations of the holidays, the Christmas trees, lights, and garlands, and heard the festivities of music and laughter. Through the windows I could see friends and families gathered together. Food shared, presents opened. There were a number of parties at the Elk’s club and Santa drove to a few houses. Though it was wonderful to see smiles on many faces, I did notice the abundance of trash outside the week after Christmas. Seems like everything is wrapped in plastic. A kid was walking by the other day and unwrapped an apple from a plastic wrapper. Seriously. I’m not joking. I told my friend Charlie to tell Johnny about it. Johnny wasn’t happy and complained that he spends a lot of time tending apples; they have their own wrapper. But I digress.
As New Year’s approached, I was privy to a few conversations of those walking together or on their cell phones of plans; both for the parties on the eve and the resolutions. Of course, I heard many people say that they want to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more. I did hear one woman declare that this was the year she would read the stack of books on her nightstand. While reading over the shoulder of someone on their tablet in the park, I read an article that said by January 17, most people have abandoned their resolutions. I’m not sure how scientific the article was but it seemed about right.
During the last few weeks, the temperature has been all over the place – from 58 to 12. Sure, we often have a few warm days, but no one seems particularly concerned that we have 58 degree days in December and have been experiencing the temperature gauge ping-ponging every day. I’m no climatologist but I have been around for about a 100 years and it used to be like this: it would get cold and stay relatively cold in the winter and the ground would freeze hard. We haven’t even had consistent freezing temperatures at night. This weather confuses me and makes my limbs ache.
Radios tell me that people are getting more committed to the environment, organizations and churches are getting involved to save the earth. I’m glad to hear it but I’m not sure the radio gets it right. Plastic got tangled in Mrs. Williams tree a few months ago and no one has removed it. Jane says she is suffocating though she tends to be a bit dramatic. My guess is, it is uncomfortable and heartbreaking. When did kids stop climbing trees and start ignoring plastic hanging from it? Why doesn’t it seem to matter?
I firmly believe in God – she did create me after all. I also know that all my friends believe in God and we take our jobs as creation seriously; we are here to provide shade, oxygen, beauty, fruit, wood, and love to humans. I guess my hope for this year is that humans would believe in God and in their jobs to care for creation. I don’t have thumbs so I can’t write our elected officials, I can’t march in protest, I can’t really do much to help. But I have stood here for about 100 years doing what I can to provide a respite for all those who are trying to help. I’ll be here all winter, spring, and summer if anyone needs me. I’ve got a few things to tell you if you can stop long enough to listen.
So, I guess this year I’m asking that you please try to save me and my friends. We love you and see you; do you love and see us? A good start would be to support the Fossil Free PCUSA group. They had a 5K in my park last year and I got to witness their work. They are trying to save me – and all of you – because they love God, and all creation, and all of you.
With gratitude to Tamara for typing my musings,
Mr. James Oak
The Village Park
by Tamara Razzano
Isaiah 60:1-4 reads,
By Pam McVety, January 2019
Happy New Year to one and all. Each new year gives us opportunities, blessings and challenges. And in some ways, a new year is like a new beginning, an opportunity for us to decide to do things differently with our lives. This is such a year—and we need that opportunity right now.
My home in Florida area was slammed by Hurricane Michael in 2018. What you may not know, now that our story is out of the headlines, is that we are still recovering and that, for some, the recovery will take decades. And what many don’t know is that we will face more, and more violent, storms in the years to come.
Today, blue tarps are still covering many of our rooftops. Our friends and neighbors are still rebuilding, arguing with insurance companies, filling out papers for FEMA, sleeping in tents, and depending on the charity of friends and neighbors for places to sleep. Many jobs have been taken from us, too. One of the most devastating and long-lasting impacts of Hurricane Michael is the destruction of timber farms. From the Gulf Coast up through South Georgia, hundreds of thousands of acres of trees are lying on the ground. More than half a million acres of trees in Bay, Calhoun, Liberty, Gadsden, Jackson and Gulf counties are gone. With this loss goes jobs, income and diminishing chances of recovery any time soon. This is a monumental tragedy that is painful and life changing for far too many of our brothers and sisters.
None of us wants to repeat this tragedy, but as long as the waters of the Gulf of Mexico continue to warm, they are guaranteed to fuel ever more powerful hurricanes. This is our new reality. Our world has changed and will not change back until we alter our own choices.
When we face a disaster, our church is first in line to help us recover. But it is last in line, or not in line at all, in embracing the new global reality. It continues to invest in fossil fuels. For decades it has committed its investment managers to meetings with fossil fuel companies—and these companies keep spending hundreds of millions of dollars to convince us that they are not responsible for our climate crisis, that fossil fuels have nothing to do with the carbon emissions that are heating up our world. Most of us know that this is a big, dangerous lie, but still we have not rid ourselves of our fossil fuel investments.
Our church’s response to climate change is like living in a two-story house with the heat running on the lower floor and the air conditioning running on the top floor. This is stupid. We are funding the monster called climate change and at the same time we are paying for the damage it is causing. It is time to get on the same side of the ledger by divesting ourselves of our fossil fuel holdings now.
As we start this a new year, we can rid ourselves of our investments in fossil fuels. We can take a life-saving, planet-saving path. We don’t have to wait to make this decision at the 2020 General Assembly.
Our money people can make this choice today.
Pam McVety is a grandmother, biologist and member of Fossil Free PCUSA.
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