by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
I do not do well in the heat. If I overdo it in warm weather, I can get really unpleasantly sick.
But I am privileged. I don't have a job where I have to work outside in the sun no matter what the temperature. I have mini-splits in my home that provide low-energy-usage cooling that keeps me safely comfortable no matter how high the temperature outside.
I am part of a distinct minority. As temperatures rise and records are broken year after year, the death toll from heat related causes continues to rise. Farm workers, people with schizophrenia, the elderly, and many others are at risk. The rate of suicide rises as temperatures increase. Wildfires become more likely. The situation is deadly.
Beyond the impact on humans, rising global temperatures impact species distribution. Species are shifting toward the poles and higher elevations. Extinction rates are increasing. These changes in turn impact other aspects of ecosystems, such as their ability to store carbon. The web of impact expands.
High heat is invisible to us. It doesn't in and of itself have physical beauty. But scientists can make its presence beautiful though thermal maps. It is a painful beauty.
Photo credit: NASA
Lots of other things are invisible too. Emotional pain, but also love. Hurt feelings, but also compassion. Anger, but also forgiveness.
How do we make our love, our compassion, and our forgiveness visible to those around us? When we do so, we turn the pain in our hearts to beauty.
May we find the strength, the courage, and the determination to turn our invisible pain into visible beauty.
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.