I grew up on a farm. I had tree houses (yes, plural). I took walks in the woods, imagined forts in the corn field, sat on a low roof to watch sunsets, read and wrote stories and journal entries sitting on the front porch, played badminton on still summer evenings with my sisters. At night, I fell asleep with my head pressed up against the screen, talking to God and looking at the Big Dipper and the North Star.
My mother tells me I didn’t spend nearly as much time outside as I think I did, but nonetheless, nature is the shape of my childhood.
As an adult, I realize how deeply my concept of God is connected with nature. Nature calmed my fussy babies. Nature soothes my troubled spirit. Nature is where I go to rest–to escape overstimulation and “be still.” It is where I do my best writing, and walking in nature is the quickest way to figure out the solution to whatever obstacle is blocking me–whether that’s a lyric, a plot point, a character motivation, or a real-life relational problem.
I’m not the only person who experiences this, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think we are more ourselves in nature, because we’re closer to God there.
So the widespread resistance to the idea of environmental stewardship displayed by some Christians is baffling to me. How can anyone view the upswing in catastrophic wildfires, floods, droughts, and storms in recent years and still argue that climate change is a hoax?
I came to understand what it means to be a “steward of creation” when we were suffering from infertility, and a water filter helped us get pregnant…because it filtered out the atrazine, diazinon, and alachlor in the water supply that had been preventing us. It made it clear to me that indeed, human behavior can and does impact creation.
Since then I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I, and my family, can live more sustainably. We do pretty well, but I never get complacent. I know there’s always more I could do. Like everyone else, we struggle with convenience (which virtually always involves more consumption. Can you say “water bottles”?). But simply being aware of our habits, we have found, has made a huge difference. It has allowed us to be more intentional about this part of our faith–the part about being stewards, rather than consumers, of creation. We have a responsibility to protect this precious, beautiful gift that God has given us–this gift that displays His power and majesty, this gift that is a little slice of what Heaven must feel like.
I still have some quotes from the US Bishops on racism’s continued power in the modern world, but with spring finally arriving, after an endless winter, it seems like a good time to place the focus for a while “On care for our common home.”