Planting hope -tree by tree

By Rev Fiona Bennet (From Seeds December 21 / January 22)

Advent is a season of waiting, and the hymn “When out of poverty was born” by Kathy Galloway invites us to listen and to learn from people who really know what waiting in hope is all about.

When out of poverty is born a dream that will not die, and landless, weary folk find strength to stand with heads held high, it’s then we learn from those who wait to greet the promised day, ‘The Lord is coming; don’t lose heart. Be blest: prepare the way!’

Kathy Galloway

When the Youth Climate Change Network visited AUC on their walk to COP26 they invited us to watch the film Thank you for the Rain, a documentary about the Kenyan farmer, Kisilu.

Kisilu recognised that much of the arable land around him was turning to dust with too little rain and flash flooding. He recognised that planting trees helped to regulate the land more effectively and spent much energy encouraging all his neighbours to plant trees; but his efforts were not enough to overcome flash floods.

Kisilu went to COP21 in Paris, where he was very encouraged that people were moved to hear his story. However, when it came to significant decisions to lower carbon emissions and address the climate change destroying the food from his family’s table, he was despairing at the lack of willingness of powerful nations to act to help him and all his neighbours.

It seemed Kisilu’s hope in humanity’s willingness to stand by each other was misplaced. He felt that he and his community were condemned to suffer due to climate change, which they did not contribute to, nor had any control over. What would he do?

Kisilu left COP21 headed back to his farm and community in Kenya and increased his efforts to plant trees.

“When out of poverty is born a dream that will not die” speaks to me of Kisilu and all like him who teach us of Advent waiting: waiting that is actively working for the dream of wholeness and justice, even when it seems overwhelmingly difficult, trusting that “The Lord is coming; don’t lose heart. Be blest: prepare the way!”