Responding to the Oil Spill: A Spiritual Practice

I awoke this morning to the news that BP’s ‘top kill’ strategy has failed: “In the six weeks since the spill began, the company has failed in each attempt to stop the gusher, as estimates of how much is leaking grow more dire. It’s the worst spill in U.S. history — exceeding even the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989 off the Alaska coast — dumping between 18 million and 40 million gallons into the Gulf, according to government estimates.”

I invite you to consider the following three-part spiritual practice in response to this crisis:

(1) Visualize: Click here to visit the In Perspective website, featured in the New York Times.  Enter your zipcode into the white box, then click on the button labeled “move the spill” to see a representation of the oil spill as if the epicenter were your house. Pause.  Open your heart.  Allow yourself to feel the pain of this disaster.

(2) Act: Rooted in your prayerful contemplation of the oil spill, take at least one concrete step in response:

(a) Make a donation to the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, “a 501(c)(3) environmental health and justice organization working with communities that neighbor the state’s oil refineries and chemical plants.”

(b) Contact your congressional representative.

(c) Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper you read most frequently.

(3) Pray these words, adapted from an article written by Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Creator and Creating God,

There is no place to go “away” from the consequences of our actions; there is no ultimate escape on this planet.

The effects at a distance may seem minor or tolerable, but the cumulative effect is not. We are all connected, and we will all suffer the consequences of this tragic disaster in the Gulf.

Wake us up, God.  Embolden us to put a stop to the kind of robber baron behavior we supposedly regulated out of existence a hundred years ago.

For the sake of our lives, the liveliness of our entire planet, and the stewardship of your good Creation we pray and act.  Amen.

What other Christian responses to the Oil Spill have you seen? Please include links to similar efforts in the comments section below.

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About Carl Gregg

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook facebook.com/carlgregg and Twitter @carlgregg.


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