The Glass Darkly

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Love of Creation...Sacramental Ecology

There is nothing that touches me deeper than to have the chance just to sit and observe Creation. I marvel and wonder at so many things: the interaction of people, the behavior of animals, the ebb and flow of water, the breeze in trees, the beauty in flowers, the vastness of fields and what grows there, the production of fruit and vegetables ... I could go on and on.

My love of Creation probably stems mostly from my childhood. I grew up in the middle of fields and forests where I spent many hours exploring with my brothers and sitting alone, watching nature breath and change with the seasons, learning to love all that grows and lives, seeing God in the twinkle of every star, the glide of majestic red-tailed hawks and the helplessness of every fragile plant and animal that struggled for existance in the wild. I loved sitting at nights in the middle of our pasture on my overturned water bucket listening to the crickets and frogs in the summer and the howl of the wind through the trees in the winter while the goats and steers I had just fed for the evening slowly made their way from the barn to join me. I would listen to their gentle breathing as they laid down around me and I had the most wonderful conversations with God. I called that place my cathedral under the stars, the place where God spoke to me as my Father and I poured out my thoughts, frustrations and desires to Him. As I looked over the pasture to my house, I often thought how much I wished my time in my cathedral would last forever, that I wouldn't have to leave it and re-enter the chaos or stress that was often present in my home as a child.

When I was in Youth Group, my youth leader and pastor at the time, encouraged and taught us the discipline of quiet meditation. I remember youth retreats at a cabin along the Little Pine Creek where he would send us out to find an alone-spot and meditate on a particular verse or chapter of the Bible. I loved those times, for they gave me an excuse to just sit, observe and marvel at Creation. God always seemed to reveal Himself in new ways to me in those times and nurtured my love of all that He so lovingly made.

As I got older and entered studies of biology and became aware of environmental issues, my heart broke as I saw so much apathy toward distructive human behavior, even among Christians. It has been a burden on my heart for many years and my studies in biology were probably, in part, a result of that interest. As a science teacher I was intentional to provide a lot of outdoor discovery time for my students, chances to care for plants and animals in my classroom and projects involving recycling or clean-up along roads. My first question to MMA when they introduced their "stewardship wheel" (which I do like as it broadens our stewardship responsibility beyond just finances) for the church was why was the environment not part of it? They said they would count that under the "relationships" section, even though there were no pictures of the environment there, just people.

Perhaps I am feeling sentimental at this time because I came across a blog by a man involved in inner-city missions in Winnipeg, Canada, whom I don't really know, but who so beautifully explained his love for the environment and Creation. He critiques the Church as having a lax view of Creation and our stewardship of it. What I love about his critique is he advocates for what he calls ""sacramental ecology", as the motivation to fight the abuses ... directly connected to the level in which we paricipate with and relate to Creation as God intended." Anyway, I found it interesting and refreshing to hear a Christian voice speak to this issue and call of stewardship.

3 Comments:

  • A wonderful post. I couldn't tell if I was reading Annie Dillard or Dawn Landes. Amazing stuff!

    Sacramental ecology...yes, yes, yes.

    In Him we live and move and have our being.

    The heavens (creation) declare the glory of God.

    Brian McLaren and Eugene Peterson would be resonant voices (among many others).

    By Blogger Brian Miller, at 9:36 AM, September 01, 2006  

  • Isn't that a great term!?!

    Yes, there are times I get lost in the links which follow from one blog to another, but McLaren's name seems to be in many of those places these days (including one I read last night where Steve Camp criticizes McLaren's views in his most recent book, A Generous Orthodoxy). In fact, also last night, I was doing more reading and Chris commented how the term "emergent" or "(e)mergent" seems to be everywhere.

    This guy I refer to (he commented on one of your posts) claims that the concept of stewardship of the environment or sacramental ecology is something he finds in many of the "emergent" voices. I was surprised to find that connection. Maybe I will try to understand more about this movement.

    By Blogger Gecko Girl, at 10:33 AM, September 01, 2006  

  • Thanks for the shout out. I'll be visiting your blog more often.

    Peace,
    Jamie

    By Anonymous Jamie Arpin-Ricci, at 11:56 AM, September 04, 2006  

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