During Climate Summer we stay in churches to eat and sleep because they welcome us with open arms. The religious organizations that house us appreciate the work we are doing to help communities resist detrimental natural gas projects that harm local and global environments, and I am thankful for their hospitality. There is a catch; we made a norm that at least one person from each team needs to attend a service so that we show our appreciation.
We attended our first service as a group this morning in the Pawtucket Congregational Church, and for me it was a unique experience. I am not Christian, so I don’t affiliate with the songs and stories that were spoken during the service. At times I omitted the lines that I didn’t agree with, which felt like a resistance to the service.
I sat through most of the service passively, playing with the hem of my dress, until I remember hearing something vaguely related to Climate Summer. I looked up and saw us on the projector, smiling dorkishly with our helmets buckled on tight, our fiery orange shirts blazing in the late sun as we huddled together in one lane, waiting for the light to turn green. The pastor said that she had never been so happy to experience such a slow moving traffic light because it had granted her the time to take a really good picture of our group. She went on to describe how we were taking our love for our sacred planet and using it to fight for all life before it is too late. Then a prayer for our bicycles came on the screen, expressing safe travels and inspiration to those we touch and hope that our work and time would make a difference.
I really appreciated that the church made a prayer for us. That is probably one of the nicest things you can do for someone, and it showed me that I didn’t need to feel the service was irrelevant just because it was different than what I was used to and different from what I personally held to be true. The pastor was able to bring us together in a loving manner despite our different backgrounds and beliefs. I hope my teammates and I can create unity and a sense of harmony on our journey this summer like the one that she created in the church.