Dear Friends,

I am on the other side, now, but the passage through Holy Week, in my solitude, was intense. The up/down/way down/way way up emotional and spiritual journey of Jesus possessed me. From his palm-strewn parade into Jerusalem to hanging on a cross to die, descending into the underworld to liberate the dead, and rising anew in divine life, I walked along. Now, on this side of the Easter Divide, I have passed through some invisible veil and stepped into a new world.

We are living in an apocalyptic time — a time when it seems the world is ending. COVID has us in its grip. For me, as for all of us, it is striking home. My daughter, Emmy, is recovering from presumed-COVID. Our organization, Kairos Earth, has applied for federal funding to keep our staff on board. I haven’t seen my 90-year-old dad with dementia in over a month. He is fading. It’s all very real.

Looking further afield, I am struck that, just as the virus burst forth to wreak havoc upon human beings, so human populations have exploded in recent centuries, wreaking havoc upon other forms of life. What goes around, comes around. The ecological dis-balance caused by human populations “going viral” has many manifestations. We will feel consequences for a long time to come. It won’t be pretty.

And yet, after passing through the underworld, I feel a kind of deeper hope. The final chapter of the Bible is the Book of Revelation, a mystical account of the apocalyptic end of the world. Apocalypse, in this sense, though, does not mean a destructive disaster. Rather, in its Greek origin, it means a revelation, an unveiling. In this time, when the world as it we knew it has ended, we, too, are being offered a revelation. It is this:

We are one body.

Jesus knew, taught, and embodied this two thousand years ago. The apostle Paul preached it. Eight hundred years ago, St. Francis renewed it. Now it is our turn. What does this unveiling ask of us? Of me? Of you?

From the poustinia ~


Stephen Blackmer

Stephen Blackmer is founding executive director of Kairos Earth and chaplain of Church of the Woods. Steve comes to this with 30 years of conservation experience, having founded and built conservation organizations including the Five Rivers Conservation Trust, Northern Forest Alliance and Northern Forest Center.

A midlife shift led him to Yale Divinity School and ordination as a priest in the Episcopal Church, carrying the question in his heart and mind: “How can being a priest deepen my work to conserve the Earth? What does the Christian tradition have to offer to this work? How can the Christian tradition be re-understood and re-imagined in a time of need? How can the conservation movement recover its understanding of the Earth as holy ground?