by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
Purple loosestrife is beautiful. It’s vivid purpureal spikes are striking and readily attract our attention.
Photo credit: Katy Z. Allen
But purple loosestrife is an allelopathic plant, when growing in the wrong place, it makes it hard for other plants to survive. It becomes bossy and takes over.
Photo credit: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
Before I knew about purple loosestrife’s aggressive tendencies, I simply enjoyed its beauty. Now it’s more complicated. Now, the pain of it’s impact is always combined with its beauty whenever I see it growing in the wetlands near my home. Now purple loosestrife, like so many other beautiful flowers that are damaging ecosystems, is calling out to me to allow the dynamic of holding pain and beauty at the same time to transform me. I don't always want to hear that message.
Yes, I believe that only by seeing the danger and suffering in the beauty can we fully experience all the emotions that climate change and environmental destruction engender within us. And only by experiencing all these emotions can we be fully transformed, and thereby bring positive transformation into the world.
Can we accept the challenge to do this?
Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long and has a growing children’s outdoor learning program, Y’ladim BaTeva. She is the founder of the Jewish Climate Action Network-MA, a board certified chaplain, and a former hospital and hospice chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY, in 2005. She is the author of A Tree of Life: A Story in Word, Image, and Text and lives in Wayland, MA, with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the.singing at Ma'yan Tikvah.