Leaders at Cape Cod’s Faith Communities Environmental Network (FCEN), including the Reverend Nell Fields at Waquoit Congregational Church, and 350 Cape Cod joined to organize simultaneous bell-ringing by dozens of Cape faith-based communities. Eleven minutes of bell tolling at 11 AM on September 20 is to be a unified call for climate mobilization, sounded at the 11th hour of our climate crisis, and in solidarity with worldwide actions that day. The First Congregational Church will ring the bell made by Paul Revere to sound the alarm, while I and others toll the St. Barnabas bell. In between, Falmouth’s Climate Strike will be concluding on the village green.
The FCEN has suggested we share what the bell ringing means to us, and so here are my personal views. I want to experience the bell tolling because it will make me stop, and listen. I want to be still, and bear witness to the present. These are strange times, when so many of us see and feel the crisis swirling, yet everything looks so normal, and we carry on meeting the demands of our day-to-day lives as we’ve always done. What else can we do? For 11 minutes while the bells toll I can stop and make time to experience the feelings of grief and terror that tighten my chest with each news cycle, only to be pushed aside. I will think of the cruelty of the Amazon fires, of the panicked animals dying in fear, and the attacks on indigenous people. I will think of the Great Barrier Reef, which is not expected to survive much longer. I will grieve these sickening tragedies. Then my grief will give way to terror from watching those carbon sinks become carbon sources. These are more than immoral and irreversible losses; they are progressive steps toward ultimate loss.
Then the bells will stop. It will be time to get back to work. I hope stopping to bear witness to all that we have wrought will bring me strength to act, knowing that humans can change the climate.
St. Barnabas Outreach Ministry