Anyone who has attended an Earth Sabbath Celebration knows how special they are. Over the past year, Earth Sabbath Celebrations have occurred monthly at Community United Church of Christ in Raleigh. As NCIPL and partners prepare to launch them in Asheville, Chapel Hill, and hopefully Durham too, I recall the first Earth Sabbath Celebration that I ever attended.
As a “twenty-something,” the first thing that struck me was age. Recently graduating from school, I found myself uncovering a misconception formed in my own head. Classrooms full of young people delving into climate science and solutions led me to think that climate change was a “ young verses old” issue. Elder generations mostly contributed to these problems and we youngsters were working to solve them. Wow, did my first Earth Sabbath Celebration correct that misunderstanding. The years of activism, the memories of environmental successes and failures were evident in people’s eyes. They had clearly seen so much change in our country, for the better and the worse. Their smiles revealed great compassion for the world but also great sorrow concerning it. Their arms offered an embrace only found through kinship. I had found my family. And they were not all in their twenties. At that Celebration, I realized that the community of faithful people, concerned about the state of our planet was wise, diverse, and welcoming.
That and all Earth Sabbath Celebrations seem to be the space for which so many of us have been longing. They are essentially designed to gather, nurture, and sustain people of any and all faiths who are concerned about climate change and the pain of the Earth. As anyone in that group knows, climate change can be a pretty overwhelming matter. Many climate-change events leave you feeling angry, depressed, or perhaps worst of all, afraid. But the Earth Sabbath Celebration is something different. It combines grief with celebration; there is after all so much to celebrate during this simultaneously changing climate. Participants, particularly due to the diversity in faith, age, and ethnicity, each have so much to offer and to gain.
As a Durham resident myself, I am thrilled to have such a service coming to my home town, and cannot wait to see how the newly planted services go!
Looking for an Earth Sabbath Celebration in your area? If you live near Asheville, Chapel Hill, or Raleigh, click here.
Live elsewhere and are interested in helping start a local Earth Sabbath Celebration program? We have resources to help make it happen! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
–Allison Scherberger, NC IPL Volunteer Coordinator