with thanks to Maryse Quinn who wrote today’s reflection
Wishing everyone a happy Earth Day! (April 22nd) This is a perfect time to reflect a bit on the natural world around us, our place in it, and ways to conserve it.
We see numerous references to nature in Scripture; people once lived a lot closer to the natural world than many of us do today. One of my favorites:
Psalm 148 [abridged] 1 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. 2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 3 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. 4 Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. 7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, 9 you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, 10 wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, 11 kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth,12 young men and women, old men and children.
Somewhere along the line, many people lost touch with nature – either because they live in an urban area, or because they’ve got set schedules that take up most of their time, or because they’ve found hobbies that take place mainly indoors. There are, however, a number of ways to connect with nature and help with conservation efforts.
1) Through prayer. I recommend Earth Gospel: a Guide for Prayer for God’s Creation, by Sam Hamilton-Poore. This book contains four weeks’ worth of “praying the hours” with an environmental theme. Each day of each week has three sets of prayer, reflections, readings, and/or poetry to help the reader focus on the natural world. The idea is to pray or reflect three times each day, but the readings can be done in any way that fits your schedule. The book is currently out of print, but I will see about acquiring a copy for the Christ Church library.
Or do your prayers outdoors, weather permitting. Birdsong, breezes, insect sounds or even rain can add a natural accompaniment to worship. (I love outdoor services.)
2) Online sources. The Episcopal Church as a whole is quite active in environmental protection. You can visit their website on Creation Care: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/ministries/office-government-relations/creation-care/. Or take the step of pledging to become a Steward of Creation: https://cnyepiscopal.org/2019/04/becoming-an-environmental-steward/ (This is a 2019 initiative, but still valid.)
There are literally thousands of environmental conservation groups in the world. Perhaps pick one and donate. I currently support both the Ocean Conservancy and the National Parks Foundation, but if you have a different interest, there’s probably a group representing your cause.
3) In person: You don’t have to pack your gear and camp out in the woods. (Although if you want to do that, the Adirondacks and Catskills are lovely almost any time of year). Any local park with a nature area will do. If you are fortunate to live in a rural setting, there’s plenty of nature available. You can even find nature in the city – we have peregrine falcons and red-tailed hawks in this area, insects galore, and dandelions that can grow almost anywhere. (Please consider leaving the dandelions alone this year – they don’t last long, and they provide early spring food for bees and other pollinators.)
It only takes a few minutes. Just breathe and observe. Close your eyes and listen for bird calls, or the wind in the trees, or rain on the roof. Take a walk along a nature trail at the Nathanial Cole Park, or Greenwood Park, or even Otsiningo Park. No fancy equipment needed – just comfortable clothing and some time.
The Sierra Club, a noted environmental group, has a Susquehanna Chapter that meets monthly in Endicott (or on Zoom) on the third Tuesday of each month. (Their website is here: https://www.sierraclub.org/atlantic/susquehanna.) Or you can watch for “clean-up” days sponsored by local groups; they choose an area and spend a day or afternoon picking up trash and/or plant new growth.
God has provided a planet to meet all our needs. Let’s help take care of it, in whatever way we can.