Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory. --Prayers of the People, Form IV, pg. 388 BCP.
I spent a few days recently in my native New Hampshire, visiting my mom and making some important personal contacts while I was there. But there was no more important contact that I felt I was making than with the place itself. I was taking in the natural environment of this corner of the planet where I was born and raised, and enjoying it immensely. Normally, on a trip to New Hampshire, I would jump in the car and drive north into the White Mountains to be surrounded in such a way that I feel my smallness in comparison to the great rocky granite mountains and the purity of the water in the lakes. Or I might drive the 10 miles or so to get to the Atlantic Ocean, and watch the waves crash in and soak down the sand and the rocks.
But this time, I stayed pretty much close to home. And it was good. My partner and I would take walks into the downtown area, noticing and smelling the lilacs in bloom. We appreciated the robins hopping through the grass before taking off for flight over the Exeter River. It was peaceful and simple. And I found myself reflecting on the prayer that I put at the beginning of this entry.
So much of my hometown was so green. So much of it seemed so alive. And so much of it was a reminder that God dwells in the world and shows us the glimpses of heaven when we stop to see what has been created to sustain us. Our job is remember that we are stewards of this creation, and it is our responsibility to care for it. It's not that I will fall down and worship a tree, but I know that the tree, like me, is part of God's creation. I know that what I do to the earth should be as respectful as what I do to another person. And I know that it's important for me, and everyone, to use the resources of the earth rightly because my actions have repercussions for future generations... and the animals and creatures who share the planet with us.
I'm currently reading Barbara Brown Taylor's new book, "An Altar in the World". BBT makes the point that people can commune and seek God in places that are outside of the stained-glass windows of their houses of worship, and I couldn't agree more. And I think if more people did take in their environments as Godly creations, there would be the kind of reverence that our Pagan and Native American brothers and sisters have already put into practice. Ours is a variation of their path, but still recognizes the Divine's handiwork in the natural wonders of our planet. I mean, if we saw our rivers as being God's well in the world, would we be OK with dumping Dioxin into it?
We must remember that we are part of the creation, and not the creators. We've been leased this opportunity to be on the planet, and the landlord expects us to do right by his property. I think sometimes we forget that. How do we remember? All we have to do is take time to stop and smell the roses.
Or the lilacs.