The Papal Visit to Washington: Personal First Impressions

washington DC PopeFrancis collageWashington DC, September 23, 2015 I didn’t think I would be so moved….While I have been helping prepare for the Moral Action on Climate for months now, so far what I have been feeling is excitement and anticipation. Hope as well, which was buoyed by the Pope’s first address in Washington when he said to President Obama that it was: “encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation….When it comes to the care of our ‘common home’ we are living at a critical moment of history.” I can only imagine what he will say to the joint session of Congress on September 24th…But more on that tomorrow.

thumb_IMG_5318_1024I want to share a “taste of Washington” with you via some photos from my day so far. And also to share a few reflections from my first Yom Kippur services outdoors. This was not just any “outdoors” mind you, but at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial looking at the Reflecting Pond and the Washington Monument. I am away from my family and didn’t think it would be an emotional experience; again, what I felt as I walked toward the crowd, which was dressed mostly in versions of white, was excitement. But as I watched the ducks play beside the front of the service, and white birds flying overhead in the most beautiful blue sky; I started to feel something special and magical. As we went through the service, which was unique in it’s own right with reflections on the homeless and affordable housing, the war in Syria, climate disruption, income inequality and endangered species, I knew this would be a moment I would always remember.

While not surround by old friends and family, I felt surprisingly comfortable. I was with a new family of sorts. One that thought like me; deeply concerned about the plight of our planet, and the future of our human species. When one of the Rabbi’s invited those who felt so moved, to come up for an Aliya (the honor of being called to the reading table in a synagogue or in this case, to the front of the crowd), she seemed to be looking directly at me.

When she said it was for those that were hurting, those who had a loved one who were sick; I joined about 40 others who made their way forward. I lost my father to his battle with cancer less then two weeks ago. While I am glad for him that he is finally no longer suffering, my family will forever hurt in his absence. As we stood by the Rabbi, we could hear the mass from The Pope’s midday prayers With US Bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, blasted on loud speakers along the mall. These prayers in latin blended so beautifully with the hebrew prayers enveloping me.

popefrancis 2I will share more in our post tomorrow, and leave you now with a few more pictures and only a few parting words. I also got to sit with two wonderful people, Steve and Kendall from North Carolina. They are leaders of the Beyond Extreme Energy movement which is shining a light on the the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, and it’s role in accelerating the climate crisis. Steve is on his 16th day of a water only fast, Kendall, just 3 days she told me….”just 3 day,” this was amazing to me and so moving. They were both articulate, thoughtful and so very kind. Often with just the fasting of one day for Yom Kippur, I am not sure I am as articulate, thoughtful or so kind…

Yours in thought and prayer, for all of us and for our Mother Earth…


Climate Mama

P.S. In case you can’t decide if you should join us or not tomorrow, take a look at this “hot of the presses” line up for the Moral Action on Climate, beginning at 7:30am ET on the National Mall, between 3rd and 7th Streets.

Moby, Songwriter and Musician
Eric Paslay, Country Music Singer and Songwriter
Sean Paul, Singer and Songwriter
Natasha Bedingfield, Singer and Songwriter
Christina Grimmie, Singer and Songwriter
Victoria Justice, Actress and Singer
Toby Gad, Producer and Songwriter
Q’orianka Kilcher, Actress, Singer
Religious Convocation (Rev. Richard Cizik, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good // Rev. Jim Ball, Creation Care // Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College // Rev. Mitch Hescox, The Evangelical Environmental Network // Dimitrios Antokas, Greek Orthodox Church of St.George // Rev. Gerald Durley, Providence Missionary Baptist Church)
The Most Reverend Pedro Jimeno Barreto, Archbishop of Huancayo and delegate of CELAM (Episcopal Conference of LA) for the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network REPAM
Rev. Mitch Hescox, The Evangelical Environmental Network
Patrick Carrolan, Franciscan Action Network
Rev. Sally Bingham, President of Interfaith Power and Light
Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE
Aliya Haq, Special Projects Director Climate and Clean Air Program, NRDC
Jay Winter Nightwolf, registered member in good standing of the Echota Cherokee Nation of Alabama
Donnel “Trip” Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice
Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International
Alden Meyer, Director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists
Kenneth Berlin, President and CEO of the Climate Reality Project
Dolores Huerta, President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for Grassroots Organizing, Co-founder United Farm Workers
Kaya Banton, Chester Environmental Justice
Destiny Watford, Free Your Voice
Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club
Lydia Camarillo, Vice President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project
Greg Moore, Executive Director of NAACP National Voter Fund
Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters
The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Hardies, leader in the Washington Interfaith Network
Thomas Lovejoy, Senior Fellow at the UN Foundation
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus
John R. Seydell III, Trustee Elect, Turner Foundation
Lucia Grenna, Managing Director, Connect4Climate, World Bank
Blanca Juti, Chief Brand Officer, Rovio
Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director, Greenpeace
Dominique Hazzard and Brenda Sanders, Black Lives Matter
Kathleen Rogers, President, Earth Day Network
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church and Architect of Moral Monday
Dennis Hayes, Board Chair, Earth Day Network
Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth
Rachel Lamb, Young Evangelicals Climate Action
Sister Simone Campbell, ‘Nuns on the Bus’
Bob Inglis, Former Congressman
Jose Aguto, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Rio Tazewell, Campaign Coordinator, PFAW
Aijen Po, Philadelphia women walking
Larry Kopald, Founder and President of The Carbon Underground
Fred Tutman, Patuxent River Keeper
Ruth Tyson, Chesapeake Climate
Gustavo Torres, Executive Director CASA
Paul Berry (MC)
Chevy Chase (MC)

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