Change of Climate

To breathe is to live.
Inhaling, internalizing what is external,
and exhaling, externalizing what is internal;
then repeat…

In this, there is an essential oneness with the universe.
How could it be otherwise?
For God hath so created us connected with the cosmos.

What happens, then, when to breathe is to die?
When the air,
wild-fired orange-tinted burns us
hurricane water-drenched drowns us.

When what is external is internal,
how then can the mind deny what the body knows;
that the climate has changed,
for we can feel it in our bones?

© 2020 PRA

4 thoughts on “Change of Climate

  1. Dear Paul,

    Thank you for this poem, and for explicitly stating what I for a long time have thought about – that we creatures of Earth are wonderfully made to depend upon her in ways that gainsay any denial that she is our Mother. Her atmosphere sustains us with every breath we take; the fruits and foodstuff that only she can produce feed and nourish us. We apparently are not meant to be easily independent of her care. And we are apparently meant to understand that we should be taking care of the one who so faithfully takes care of us.

    Yet, human accomplishment and human arrogance endanger and destroy the very gifts Earth provides, for we have adopted human values that we seem to conclude are more to be prized than her care. We have made a bargain that is more or less equivalent to trading our oxygen supply for a lot of pretty gold and diamonds and a brief feeling of superiority for a few of us humans. It’s a bad bargain for every human (not to mention for every other living thing on Earth), and it’s a hellish bargain if you don’t happen to be one of those few humans who get the gold, the diamonds, and the false – and very short-lived – superiority.

    On a lighter note, but still the same theme, there’s a family in our neighborhood that has put up a sign in their yard among several other political signs, which of course in this season are ubiquitous. Their sign reads: “Science! Like magic, only REAL!” The sign, like all the others, is becoming a bit more difficult to read in the haze from the smoke from the fires in California, Oregon, and Washington. Those places ordinarily seem very far away from Minnesota, but we are starting to learn just how close they are these days. Just as we are learning how close all humans are as we learn – or choose not to learn – not to breathe on each other, lest we cause each other to become ill and die.

    There is so much to learn in these times, most of it about what we have failed to even try to learn before this moment. Let’s hope it’s not too late to salvage some of the future we could have had if we had been learned to be wiser sooner.

    Thank you for your thoughts, your words, and your insights, dear Paul.




  2. My dear sister Karen,

    In an earlier poem, “I can’t breathe!” (June 12, 2020), in part, I wrote:

    “I can’t breathe!”

    How oft
    (now, o’er a century’s half;
    at least, from that year setting aside
    an annual April day to commemorate our care)
    hath cried our Mother Earth?
    She, gasping under hovering clouds of greenhouse gas,
    pleads for all powers-that-be
    for all people, whatever their possessing power
    to act to protect and save
    that She,
    continuing Her journey ‘round the Sun,
    may…can serve us.

    When I am in a most-despairing mood, I think (morbidly) that one blessing is that, given my age, I won’t be alive to see the worst effects of our humanly hubristically-manufactured destruction of our environment. Nevertheless, even in such a sorrowful posture, I strive daily to do what I can where I am with what I have at my disposal to protect Mother Earth. Though my efforts are small, they are something. I seek to console (if not to content) myself with that.

    And, regarding your comment about seeing (literally) in Minnesota the effects of the wild fires to the west, a dear friend in DC commented this morning about the haze when she, upon rising, searched the sky for the sun. Moreover, yesterday, I read a news clip that the visual evidence of the fires could be seen from the orbiting space station…

    Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.

    Be well, my beloved sister. Stay well.



  3. Thank you, Paul, for your response. You encourage and strengthen me to keep doing what I can as well. And perhaps if we and all the others who can’t be silent keep calling attention to Earth’s desperation, which by now should be obvious to all, something may be salvaged even at this point to give future generations a chance to do things differently. Or perhaps, if greed and hubris prevail, Earth (with the Creator’s assent) will simply determine that she can no longer afford humankind and will allow our blind folly to take its logical course. In which case, yes, it’s probably preferable to be old…

    Much love,



  4. Karen, this morning, during the weekly Tuesday ecumenical clergy Bible study (since the pandemic-restrictions, conducted via Zoom), one of my colleagues, under the heading of our human choices have consequences, which God, though not willing, indeed, may allow, in so many words, made precisely your point: “…perhaps, if greed and hubris prevail, Earth (with the Creator’s assent) will simply determine that she can no longer afford humankind and will allow our blind folly to take its logical course.” ‘Twas, for me, a chilling and truthful moment. Thus, so, too, later reading and, through the day, reflecting on this your word.



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