Ritual – Ice Melting

Ritual done in James Chapel at Union Theological Seminary, September 10, 2019



Ritual Outine


Gathering Song: Led by Katie (with hand drum or djembe, and acapella)



The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of her //

Hey yunga ho yunga, hey yung yung //


The Ice is our Brother, we must take care of him //

Hey yunga ho yunga, hey yung yung //


– Welcome and intro to ice melting




Climate Change you say and I reply: No, I am afraid not. Not Climate Change anymore. Climate collapse instead.


For the first time in our time we are hearing the natural sounds of the water trumpets announcing that the end is near! Shuaaaaa The end is near Shuaaaaa


Paraphrasing Brazilian singer Gilberto Gil: “There is a fear, for the first time in our history, that US redemption is not happening, that US mighty not save us or protect us from the biggest enemy we are dealing with now: climate collapse. Hollywood have tried to find the worst possible enemies for US but with might and brilliancy we were always able to win them all. However, what Hollywood did not realize neither did we, is that that our enemy was hidden in plain sight! It was us! It has always been ourselves! Our lust for everything, our desire for excesses, our entitlement, our love for profit, our perverse pleasure for never ending gainings and unending ability for exploitation has brought us to a dead end.


And now, there is no postponement anymore. And no redemption anymore. Rather, we must now face the ugly ghost of a terrible impossibility. We are now truly afraid of the future.  PAUSE


So today we gather here to name the issues that are leading our history to the end and to find ways of mutual sustenance. Today our issue is global warming with consequent ice and glaciers melting.

Since the earth, Gaia, is a living organism, it cannot lose its proper temperature. Just like our bodies. When we get fever, our bodies tell us that there is something wrong. The same way, Gaia, has fever and is not feeling well. The earth’s temperature is already very high. July was the hottest month in our whole history. Death ensues.


Scientists and government have made a deal that we must work to keep the rise of temperatures up to 1,5 degree. But now we are working with the reality of 2 degrees, or 2,5 and now some people are even talking about 3 degrees which means an unpredictable calamity. The fact is, we are getting warmer.


“Since the early 1900s, many glaciers around the world have been rapidly melting. Human activities are at the root of this phenomenon. Specifically, since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions dues to fossil fuel have raised temperatures, even higher in the poles, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting, calving off into the sea and retreating on land. Even if we significantly curb emissions in the coming decades, more than a third of the world’s remaining glaciers will melt in the next coming years. When it comes to sea ice, 95% of the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic is already gone. Scientists project that if emissions continue to rise unchecked, the Arctic could be ice free in the summer as soon as the year 2040 as ocean and air temperatures continue to rise rapidly.”


I could give you lots of numbers that are very important but that might be too much. Perhaps it is enough to say that with ice and polar caps melting everywhere, there will be no way to go back to colder temperatures anymore.

The consequences will be a mix of long heavy draughts with severe rains and thunderstorms, global sea level rise and the disappearance of entire cities, including New York, alteration of ocean’s patterns, massive extinction of species, poverty, global migration due to climate change and wars over sources of living.


Hannah Arendt talks about a feeling of loneliness in this social dementia. A heightened feeling of social disarray. Loneliness joins the feelings of being paralyzed.


While we have to attend these feelings, we must also respond. Those corporations that are denying climate collapse such as Kock brothers, US petroleum companies such as Exxon Mobil Corporation and the whole government of the United States, are moving in full swing trying to convince us with their charlatanism that there is nothing happening. And the worse, we haven’t woken up fully to its daring dimensions yet. Many churches are still silenced, schools are silenced and even in our school does not take this challenge as a priority. Nothing is more fundamental than the well-being of the earth. From that well-being flows all of the other concerns.

So today we are reminding ourselves of the ice melting and at the same time, trying to figure out how we find ways to cope, to show solidarity with each other and with the earth. We gather together here in order to ponder, to wonder, to sing, to pray, to listen, to witness and to offer presence. And then let us get involved with organizations that are pressing the govern. Be active. Next week September 20 there will be a global strike. Engage! Deeply! As Jonathan Franzen recently put at the New Yorker:


“Any movement toward a more just and civil society can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the country of assault weapons—these are all meaningful climate actions.”


As you do it, take care of your heart. Embrace despair if needed until peace finds a way in and through your heart. Find your trust! As the Psalmist said in Psalm 56:3: “when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Be afraid! Indeed be afraid! Until you are not anymore. Do NOT be afraid! We are here for you. You are here for us. We are in this together. No one will let anybody’s hand go unattended, without being tightly held and kindly cared. And let us ponder in what Jewish Theologian Marc Ellis said: “Mourning isn’t about giving up. Mourning is freeing us of our old versions of deflection. We begin again.”[1]


We will have a time for music and then silence. As we witness the ice melting, think about water to the point where your mind and body become the water. Let the water wash over you, let your whole being become the water. Become the river. Become the glaciers falling. We are made of so much water. Let water be what it is: you! And let you be what you are: water! Watch the ice melting and if thoughts arise, let them go until the mind becomes nothing but the melting ice. Let us do this together.

[1]Facebook, 09/10/2019.


– Video of ice melting – Katie plays Bach, Prelude in eb minor while this video is showing




– Silence


– Music – reprise gathering song but with lyrics shifting from “we must” to “we will”


The Earth is our Mother, we will take care of her //

Hey yunga ho yunga, hey yung yung //


The Ice is our Brother, we will take care of him //

Hey yunga ho yunga, hey yung yung //


– Prayers – Come and touch the water and say a prayer of gratitude to the water.


– Silence


– Singing – Woyaya


– Blessing