The Circumference of Home

Long Island, Nova Scotia, 2012

What’s good for the soul in this time of a 24/7 world? What soul-filled response can one make in response to the crisis of climate change?

I’ve been reading some excellent books, and articles, that document the climatic catastrophe currently affecting our common environment. We all live and breathe one atmosphere; and drink of one life-giving water.  Some books, like Chris Turner’s “Geography of Hope” leave me with a positive feeling. However, all too frequently, I end up thinking that reading about climate change has replaced economics as, “the dismal science”.

Kurt Hoelting’s book, “The Circumference of Home” deals with a personal response to climate change, but it is food for the soul. Having witnessed the effects of climate change, and realizing their implications, Hoelting decided to reduce his carbon footprint by “living locally”.

The result is a journal of his year-long journey spent within a radius of 100 km of his home on Whidbey Island. He travelled extensively on foot, bicycle and kayak to get to become more familiar with the land, air and sea within 100 km of home. This was a journey without his car. There were no aircraft flights. It is his reflections on this travel that makes the book worth reading. That’s what touched my soul.

Hoelting is well aware of the effects of climate change, and he describes how some of these are affecting the area of the Pacific Northwest, where he lives. He writes about glaciers receding, stronger storms, and wonders what the future of snow may be in that area of God’s creation.

Whether it was his Zen meditations, or his past training in theology, Hoelting’s style is rich in reflective material that causes one to stop; to consider what was just read, and to continue slowly. The author of this book has a positive spirit. There is no prescription for others; no list of what must be done, no blaming of particular individuals or companies. Still, there is a recognition that we are all culpable, and we are all agents of possibilities for a better world.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the lack of action on the crisis of climate change? I was too. Reading Kurt Hoelting’s book has fed my soul, and my desire to do what I can for the sake of future generations. Our legacy, our history, will be in the sum and total of our actions – both individually and collectively.

A YouTube video of Hoelting speaking of his experiences can be found at:


Posted August 22, 2012 by allanbaker in Peacemaking

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