​The Sierra Madre mountains. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

By Sara Gurulé
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Sara Gurulé (she/her) is a constituent engagement representative for Mennonite Mission Network. Sara is passionate about liberation and justice movements that are intersectional, with one such area being environmental justice. She is a graduate of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Fresno Pacific University, receiving an Master of Art in theology and peace studies with an environmental concentration and a Bachelor of Arts in biblical and religious studies with a minor in environmental studies, respectively.

This blog was originally published on the Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) website as part of MC USA's Learn, Pray, Join: Climate Justice: Seeking Shalom series on May 16.

I grew up in the high desert region of central New Mexico, as well as the southern Central Valley area of California. Whenever I write on the topic of climate, I find it to be a grounding practice to name the lands that raised me. The Sandia Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains witnessed my birth and growth; the warm clay, the junipers, the pines, the desert wildflowers and all the creatures of the desert — these became teachers to me. And these are only the beginning of my kin! Even though I now live among the lush greenery of eastern Pennsylvania, I have grown up seeing the effects of climate change on many parts of the places that I call home. Specifically, I have witnessed annual precipitation that has led to the subsequent loss of ecological diversity and resilience against things like wildfires, disease, erosion and infestation, in addition to monsoon seasons getting shorter, less snow on the mountain peaks and mass tree death …

I mention these as elements of the complex grief that I experience around climate change. A lot of these elements are visible phenomena that are springing from much deeper issues, which have been brought about by climate change. It wasn’t until I was in college that I began learning about how accelerated global warming has become, particularly over the last 100 years or so.

The effect on my worldview and faith — at the time — were catastrophic; it took years — and counting! — to reconstruct how I understand the world around me, as well as what my purpose looks like in deeper relation with all of my kinship. From college onward, I have learned how climate change is directly tied to how empires extract and exploit resources and human lives to build wealth for the privileged few. I have learned how violence, oppression and religion have been used against the least of these, in order to assert control and domination over people, the land and all therein. I heard the stories of people who have had to flee political violence, economic despair, natural disasters and the like; within each of those stories, the land was a central component. The already complex climate grief I was witnessing deepened and complexified further, as I learned that climate change is directly interconnected to social justice efforts around the world.

As I continue to learn the depths of injustice that directly contribute to the climate crisis, the constant question I face is this:

How does one remain hopeful in the face of systems of oppression and systemic violence, while also continuing to resist these systems and powers, by actively fighting for justice/liberation for of all creation?

It is a loaded question — and I am not sure of its grammatical accuracy — but I think that it is one that is on many people’s minds. Within this question are many others: How can I persist, when I have limited power to enact large-scale change? When I am involved with liberation movements, how can I maintain the energy and urgency that the climate crisis requires, in the midst of burnout? How does global and local environmental loss impact my understandings of faith and praxis? These are the many of the questions that I have been asking myself in the last couple of years.

In the time that I have been asking and reflecting on these questions, here is what I have learned:

  • It is incredibly important, in times of great grief, to have communities. To go through crisis together, to mourn, to process, to work together — communities that I have been a part of and who have surrounded me in times of crisis have been crucial to the ongoing work of climate justice and social justice.
  • Taking time to be surrounded by the natural world can be a healing experience, even in the midst of grief. Although the places that I call home have been irreparably changed, my environmental kin constantly teach me new ways of being. While global warming still threatens life in a diversity of bioregions, all the flora, fauna and insects continue to adapt.
  • It is okay to actively grieve, and I would argue that it is a necessary step in becoming more engaged in resistance movements/liberation work. I am learning that toxic positivity and optimism are not sustainable tools when talking about and engaging with ongoing crises. The more that I am honest with myself and with the situations directly connected to the crises, the more I can learn how to regulate my emotions in ways that allow for ongoing work toward positive change.

I would like to end how I started — reflecting on places and kin that have raised me. With less snow on the peaks of the Sandia Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the changing landscape of flora, fauna and insects within all the places that continue to nurture me, I am learning from my kin to keep being. The death and destruction that surrounds creation and impacts us all directly is very real, and yet creation continues to be. May the bold action of being continue to be a form of resistance against the ways of empire, which are greed, exploitation and extraction in the names of wealth, “health” and security. May communal interconnection and interdependence provide a way of being that moves us all toward healing and new life.

 

 

 Related articles

 

 

For a new dad, the thought of fatherhood is more mysterious than everBLOGhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5084/For-a-new-dad-fatherhood-feels-more-mysterious-than-everFor a new dad, the thought of fatherhood is more mysterious than everGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Joe SawatzkyQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5074/Here-with-purpose-Joe-SawatzkyHere with purpose: Joe SawatzkyGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
“Unity in Diversity”: An interview with Martin Gunawan about his cultural heritageQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5079/Unity-in-Diversity-An-interview-with-Martin-Gunawan-about-his-cultural-heritage“Unity in Diversity”: An interview with Martin Gunawan about his cultural heritageGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Anabaptist Witness combines scholarship and global solidarity with Ethiopian issueAnabaptist Witnesshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5077/Anabaptist-Witness-combines-scholarship-and-global-solidarity-with-Ethiopian-issueAnabaptist Witness combines scholarship and global solidarity with Ethiopian issueGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Complex grief of climate changeCreation Carehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5078/Complex-grief-of-climate-changeComplex grief of climate changeGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Sibonokuhle NcubeQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5070/Here-with-purpose-Sibonokuhle-NcubeHere with purpose: Sibonokuhle NcubeGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Privilege shapes our response to the migrant crisisMigrationhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5068/Privilege-shapes-our-response-to-the-migrant-crisisPrivilege shapes our response to the migrant crisisGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Calais
Here with purpose: Tim YoderQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5065/Here-with-purpose-Tim-YoderHere with purpose: Tim YoderGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mennonite mission worker continues to nurture friendships with Shia Muslims in IranInterfaith discussionhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5064/Mennonite-mission-works-continues-to-nurture-friendships-with-Shia-Muslims-in-Iran-Mennonite mission worker continues to nurture friendships with Shia Muslims in IranGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Qom, Iran
Easter calls us to open the doors of our homes and our heartsEasterhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5061/Easter-calls-us-to-open-the-doors-of-our-homes-and-our-heartsEaster calls us to open the doors of our homes and our heartsGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Calais
Celebrating Holy Week in multiple cultures can deepen faithHoly Weekhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/4879/Celebrating-Holy-Week-in-multiple-culturesCelebrating Holy Week in multiple cultures can deepen faithGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Redefining the future of serviceBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5047/Are-service-programs-dyingRedefining the future of serviceGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Henok MekoninQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5044/Here-with-purpose-Henok-MekoninHere with purpose: Henok MekoninGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
The heartbreak of the border: A call for compassion and changeBloghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5043/A-call-for-compassion-and-changeThe heartbreak of the border: A call for compassion and changeGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Karen HorsmanQ&Ahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5039/Here-with-purpose-Karen-HorsmanHere with purpose: Karen HorsmanGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476

 

 

https://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5078/Complex-grief-of-climate-change

Sara Gurulé is a constituent engagement representative for Mennonite Mission Network.

 Related

 

 

For a new dad, the thought of fatherhood is more mysterious than everhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5084/For-a-new-dad-fatherhood-feels-more-mysterious-than-everFor a new dad, the thought of fatherhood is more mysterious than ever
Here with purpose: Joe Sawatzkyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5074/Here-with-purpose-Joe-SawatzkyHere with purpose: Joe Sawatzky
“Unity in Diversity”: An interview with Martin Gunawan about his cultural heritagehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5079/Unity-in-Diversity-An-interview-with-Martin-Gunawan-about-his-cultural-heritage“Unity in Diversity”: An interview with Martin Gunawan about his cultural heritage
Anabaptist Witness combines scholarship and global solidarity with Ethiopian issuehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5077/Anabaptist-Witness-combines-scholarship-and-global-solidarity-with-Ethiopian-issueAnabaptist Witness combines scholarship and global solidarity with Ethiopian issue
Complex grief of climate changehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5078/Complex-grief-of-climate-changeComplex grief of climate change
Here with purpose: Sibonokuhle Ncubehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5070/Here-with-purpose-Sibonokuhle-NcubeHere with purpose: Sibonokuhle Ncube



 

 

For a new dad, the thought of fatherhood is more mysterious than everhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5084/For-a-new-dad-fatherhood-feels-more-mysterious-than-everFor a new dad, the thought of fatherhood is more mysterious than everBLOG
Mission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people togetherhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5082/Mission-worker-used-comforter-making-to-knot-God’s-people-togetherMission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people togetherObituary
Here with purpose: Joe Sawatzkyhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5074/Here-with-purpose-Joe-SawatzkyHere with purpose: Joe SawatzkyQ&A
“Unity in Diversity”: An interview with Martin Gunawan about his cultural heritagehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5079/Unity-in-Diversity-An-interview-with-Martin-Gunawan-about-his-cultural-heritage“Unity in Diversity”: An interview with Martin Gunawan about his cultural heritageQ&A
Anabaptist Witness combines scholarship and global solidarity with Ethiopian issuehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5077/Anabaptist-Witness-combines-scholarship-and-global-solidarity-with-Ethiopian-issueAnabaptist Witness combines scholarship and global solidarity with Ethiopian issueAnabaptist Witness
MC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-Strongholdhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5076/MC-USA-files-new-amicus-brief-in-support-of-Apache-StrongholdMC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-StrongholdApache-Stronghold