I have heard some lament that the movement of recognition and action for climate change is like a religion.
Yet we all seem to like a little religion in our lives. Who doesn’t enjoy unwrapping presents and singing carols by candlelight at Christmas or eating seafood on Good Friday? Crowds queue endlessly to marvel at the frescoes of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, and audiences never seem to tire of Handel’s Messiah.
A little bit of religion is like sunshine on a cloudy day or the comforting pitter patter of rain on the roof. And yet, for the devout, religious tokenism is an anathema. For zealots, religion is the manifestation of a higher calling, and they are prepared to embrace sacrifice to demonstrate their devotion. History is littered with holy wars, waged in the name of God, that unleashed untold misery and suffering on the people of the world.
It may well be that climate change is a religion, but when the sunshine turns into a ravaging drought and the rain into a raging flood, we may find ourselves swept away by the magnitude of our circumstances too long ignored.
If all we can offer in response is a token gesture, we face the wrath of Gaia, the Greek Goddess of Nature, as she retaliates and forces us to face an inquisition into our continuing inadequacy.
Sunshine and rain
Lionel sat on the armchair on the balcony. He scratched his beard. His wife had been asking him to shave it for the last week. Maybe he’d get around to it. But not now. It was still dark, as if the sun was taking its time to get out of bed. Lionel wished he could take some inspiration from the sun – normally he had to be up before it rose. In the mornings, it was a matter of out of bed and straight into the routine.
A red toy car tipped on its side lay a few feet away from him. It was a brief reminder of the objects that were sometimes not put in their place, strewn around the house because his tiredness had worn down his ability to spot those details.
The sky was now pink and yellow and the silence outside remained. Size 3 blue sandals by the balcony door were stacked on top of each other, the Velcro of one sandal stuck to the Velcro of the other. Lionel's son, Mitch, would remind his father not to touch his shoes, that he liked them like that, close enough to the door so that he could put them on before stepping outside.
Lionel shifted the shoes away from the door to make room for his armchair. He wanted to sit where the sun's rays would envelop him as they emerged through the clouds and moved from behind the building. He closed his eyes, drew a long breath and let the light bathe his face, his chest and his bare arms. Soon it was warm enough to remove his fleece jacket.
The breaths he drew made his bulgy stomach rise and fall. Silently, he thanked whichever Sun god his mother had revered.
Suddenly his calm breath quickened, almost without him noticing. He could hear the glass balcony door inching open, its sparse squeaky noises sliding along the railing.
'Where are my shoes?' Mitch’s voice called out. The outdoor sunshine had been interrupted by the rain of crying and complaint indoors.
Text: Robert Carrick & Clara Andrade.
This SSOA blog showcases the work of emerging writers in Sydney School of Arts & Humanities' weekly writers' groups. You can join us via ssoa.com.au