Much has been said in the various media about climate change and the possibility of global warming destroying our home. For that reason Rev. John’s message today is most timely since many believe that we, God’s reflection, are responsible for much of climate change.
Therefore for today’s blog I have concentrated on Rev. John’s message.
“Conservationist, Aldo Leopold, once said that in order to save a place, you must first love it! What places do you love! What places have nurtured you during your lifetime? Perhaps, your special place was a beloved tree in your backyard as a child. You would climb up on a limb of that tree and sit and dream dreams. Was that tree a gum or an oak? Whatever kind it was, I presume you loved that tree!”
This introduction struck home. During my primary school years, we used to congregate at the local park.. I could give you a minute by minute account of our time there, but the times I remember best were when we climbed, via a park bench, into the lower limbs of one particular tree. There was a core group of 5 and sometimes a few others joined us. We talked and talked. I don’t remember our exact exchanges but we were practising serious adult conversations, airing our “informed” views of the world.
Despite none of us actually knowing anything at all, we showed serious respect for the “opinions” of others. It is that deep listening I remember that tied us together, held together by the supportive branches of the tree. We could rely on the arms of that tree. No one ever fell. The branches grew out from the central trunk in such a way so as to cradle us while we got on with the business of growing up. Who knows? Someone may have uttered an informed statement at some time before we decided that we were too old to hang about in a tree.
But because of that time, in some ways that tree was as much a part of my upbringing as my family or school.
All of us have places in nature that we love. And we would be filled with grief, say if that tree was unnecessarily cut down, or that beach suffered an oil spill, or that trout stream became polluted. Yet as Christians, we are called to love so much more! More than just the places we have known and loved. We are called to love the whole earth that God created and called good! We are called to love places we will never see or know. We are called to advocate for the restoration of places that are no longer pristine and pretty because of human decisions.
We are called to remember the words of scripture and the words of prophets down through the ages, who have spoken of the interconnectedness of all creation. We are called to remember the words of one of the American First Nations Chiefs, Seattle, who said, “We did not create the web of life. We are only a strand in it. And whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
Since the start of the industrial revolution, we, human beings, have often forgotten or ignored the call of our various religious traditions to care for creation. We have fallen asleep. But today, prompted by worldwide concerns for climate change, (no matter how we believe it has occurred) we are waking up! We are waking up to the ancient truths of indigenous peoples and the modern truths of scientists, who say, we are all interconnected.
For some of us, that takes a long time. Some of us think it is only other humans who are our responsibility. Some will extend that to all sentient beings but exclude ants and crabs and worms AND PLANTS.
It takes quite a while for us to realize that all living things are within our circle of care, including the ones that irritate us. Every living thing including bacteria, viruses and flies have their place in the web of life. Our job as God’s stewards is to see that all are given their proper places to live.
Even fruit bats. They have a bad press for dirtying our cars or taking over parks. The way to avoid this happening is to see that their habitat is protected so that they don’t look for other places to live. As far as flies and ants and other “annoying pests” are concerned, we shouldn’t leave food around to attract them.
There is a place in the web of life for all of God’s creation. It is our job to preserve those places.