When I was a child I used to think prophecy meant pure magic. The ability to look into a crystal ball and see the future. The whispers of gods in your ears who told you the way the world would be. Or maybe that people who can predict the future are those who’ve actually been there and came back, like in the movie Back to the Future.
As a minister there are three aspects to my profession – pastor, to care for all; preacher, to give word to the spirit; and prophet, to fight for a better future. The last part involves no crystal balls, whispers of gods, or time traveling cars. It is to deeply feel the larger patterns that move all life and come to a conclusion.
The news from Houston is that there is no way for the city to prepare for such a catastrophic storm. And a prophetic shock bolts through – there will be no way for any city to prepare for the oncoming climate change disasters. Houston will be all of us soon – by flood, and as we know in the valley, by fire.
I draw a lot of spiritual strength from being able to look at the mountains and think about taking such a long view in my life, for my family, for the congregation I serve. And now those of us in Carbondale can no longer see Sopris. What are we to do?
The short term answers are simple. Fight against climate change and demand system change. The smoke will float away. The waters will recede. We’ve seen high water and wildfires before.
The long term answers are a little bit harder. Who are we when we can no longer see the mountains? Who are we that we’ve allowed the Earth become so inhospitable to all humanity? Who are we when disaster strikes, again and again? As the theme this month is to know thyself, these are questions well worth asking and answering again and again.
Unitarian Universalism would offer that these answers are revealed by our direct experience and contemplation. Our prophetic conclusion could be that we are the people who have known tragedy before and can surmount it again. That when we can no longer see the signs we are not lost as long as we have each other.
These are some of the answers I’ve found to be true again and again. However, the task is not to take my answers to heart – but it is for you to ask yourself these questions and find your own prophecies, though right now, few things are clear. We are blessed to be a part of this community to search for the answers together, and perhaps, we will be able to complete our prophetic visions of a better future in which we all can see the mountains.