On Beltane: A Call for Hope and Hard Work

On Beltane: A Call for Hope and Hard Work April 29, 2019

The Dogwood’s New Day

by Nan Lundeen

Overnight the dogwood bursts forth its light,
white blossoms trembling under cover of spruce.
We wake to delight that bloomed in the night.

Yesterday, buds shivering and tight
were stirred by hope but not shaken loose.
Overnight the dogwood bursts forth its light.

In the yard at dawn he blooms into sight,
a champion of the woodlands, not a recluse.
We wake to delight that bloomed in the night.

Let’s go outside and fly your new kite,
the one you designed like a flying goose.
Overnight the dogwood bursts forth its light.

Spool her out easy, let her take flight—
unloop, unloop the noose!
We wake to delight that bloomed in the night.

Isn’t she grand, winging to liberty’s heights?
Let her fly! Put her to good use.
Overnight the dogwood bursts forth its light.
We wake to delight that bloomed in the night.


On Beltane: A Call for Hope and Hard Work

by Nan Lundeen

Ever since I learned years ago about the horrors of climate change, I’ve been puzzled—why don’t more people care? Maybe because it seemed at first to be a problem only in the distant future.

And now it is upon us.

The situation warrants “extreme urgency,” Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, said last fall when a United Nations scientific panel released a special global warming report.

Sir David Attenborough said, “Leaders of the world you must lead. If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” Attenborough, naturalist and host of the BBC’s “Planet Earth,” was addressing the UN Climate Summit in Poland last December.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has addressed the changes needed: “This will take unprecedented changes in all aspects of society—especially in key sectors such as land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities. We need to end deforestation and plant billions of trees; drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels and phase out coal by 2050; ramp up installation of wind and solar power; invest in climate-friendly sustainable agriculture; and consider new technologies such as carbon capture and storage.”

I recently read a review of David Wallace-Wells’ devastating new book The Uninhabitable Earth and was left mentally sitting in a corner, staring into space and sucking my thumb. Yet, I need to be informed and to own this book. As I often do when I want something in a hurry, I could summon it to my doorstep via Amazon in two days. But I realized I was living the convenience dream that set us on a path to destroy in only 200 years the intricate balance of our living planet that has supported life for millennia. I thought about the carbon emissions generated to bring me the book. OK, I need to download books onto my e-reader and shop when I’m in town not with the click of a mouse.

But lifestyle changes by ordinary people, important as they are, are not enough. Buying mesh produce and grocery bags to avoid plastic or planting trees in our back yards or recycling or buying local are not enough to help island nations that disappear under rising seas, Honduran coffee farmers unable to feed their families because of sustained drought, dying coral reefs, vital to the food chain, melting ice caps.

What, then?

Despair won’t work. On Beltane, as we celebrate fertility and the joy of quickening fields, the hope of grain despite calamitous floods and droughts, consider what needs to happen as described by the UN Secretary-General.

To grapple with this monumental devastation already underway requires action by huge institutions such as cities, states, nations, nonprofits, corporations, the United Nations.

I need to catch a glimpse of that new kite—the one designed like a flying goose—the one bearing the heavy burden of hope. That means, to me, latching onto action that seems the most impactful.

I am heartened by Swedish teenage-environmental activist Greta Thunberg who has sparked student protests. Adults have much to learn from young activists working in organizations such as #FridaysForFuture and #ClimateStrike. They ask why they should study for a future that may not exist because governments are ignoring scientists and allowing their planet to be wantonly destroyed. I salute you, students, and as a grandmother and a U.S. citizen, I pledge to work for candidates for political office in this country who are taking action and who have specific plans to address this enormous threat.

For five ways to support the school climate strikes, visit https://350.org/support-schoolstrike.

Despair is no savior, nor is denial. We’re out of time and excuses. It will take hard work to unloop the noose of fossil fuels that is strangling life on Earth. But we can feed our spirits with the dogwood’s light and when the time comes, march into voting booths armed with information. My hope is that we will elect officials on every level who recognize pending disaster when it stands on the doorstep ringing the bell loudly and who have the courage to act despite our habits of convenience and the diabolical power of the fossil fuel industry.
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The Dogwood’s New Day was first published by Steam Ticket: A Third Coast Review
visit Nan, author of Gaia’s Cry, at www.nanlundeen.com

About Nan Lundeen
Nan Lundeen is the author of "Gaia's Cry." Visit her at www.nanlundeen.com You can read more about the author here.
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