Unpacking How We Can Breathe Together in this Moment

Catholic Climate Covenant recently hosted an online conversation responding to how we are living in a time of multiple crises, each one calling us to take urgent action.  

It’s a lot to unpack, said Sr. Joan Brown, OSF, executive director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, who explored her essay ‘I Can’t Breathe, the Words that Haunt Us” published in the Global Sisters Report. 

“I reflected upon the interconnectedness of racism, immigration, climate change, Coronavirus, inequity in health and economics – through the phrase that still rings through our bodies and that we see on so many signs in the streets and on our television screen,” Sister Joan said. “George Floyd’s dying words ‘I can’t breathe’ encapsulate generations of struggle against racist systems built on white supremacy. There’s a long litany of realities of injustices and environmental devastation. ‘I can’t breathe’ is a plea to be seen as a human being. It is a plea to live. It is a plea to live out the largest part of the Gospel, to love God and neighbor, because everyone and everything is sacred.” 

In her presentation Sister Joan connected the dots between massive fires at the beginning of the year, the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic hurting communities of color most, nuclear power plants and pollution situated in some of our communities most, the painful killing of George Floyd, and immigrant communities dealing with inhumane conditions that all have as a common connection the extinguishing of breath, something we must acknowledge and dismantle in tandem. 

“We are living in the butterfly effect moment, where a wing flapped in Africa influences us in the U.S.,” she said. “Will we, can we, join together listening to these small breaths and join our breaths for change in this moment?” 

Part 1: Breathing in a Time of Crises (Sr. Joan Brown, OSF)

Part 2: Breath Meditation (Sr. Kathleen Kaelin, OSU)

Part two of our online dialogue on breathing in a time of crises featured Sr. Kathleen Kaelin, OSU, faculty at the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center, who helped us explored how contemplative prayer and the tools of meditation and compassion drawn from our faith can guide us in responding appropriately and in constructive ways during these moments of crises and trauma. 

Enjoy this short, guided meditation focused on breathing, so that we may continue our work and journey in faith: 

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