by Carol Hohle
There are three things that especially strike me as profound about the environment on earth:
- The sheer awe and mystery of its beauty
- The abundance of life giving expressions
- And, the humility I learn by being displaced from thinking of myself and humankind as the center of the universe.
Why am I drawn to being a witness to care for creation?
I’m not a scientist and I’m not especially drawn to causes that create fear about the longevity of humankind’s existence. I’m just an ordinary citizen in the world.
Something happened to me a couple years ago though when I heard Julia Butterfly Hill ask the audience I was sitting in a question about where disposal goods go. “Where is away?” she asked. Her doe-like eyes penetrated into the soul of my being and I gasped for air. I had never thought of “away” like that. I had grown up marveling, as my mother taught me, about paper plates and cups and plastic utensils. These were time saving devices that spared me from the unpleasant chore of dish washing. I had never thought about where they went once I discarded them.
“I began to notice how many times a day I went to the trashcan to dispose of something. And each time I stood over the waste basket I heard her asking her question again, ‘Where is away?’”
Following Julia’s remark I began to notice how many times a day I went to the trashcan to dispose of something. And each time I stood over the waste basket I heard her asking her question again, “Where is away?” I started reusing all the plastic bags I was tossing out and made the effort to be more thorough in what I was recycling. But, I also began to change my consumption habits and began reducing the amount I was putting into the trashcan. As a result I’ve become more grateful for what I already have and realize that constant acquisition is a selfish and ultimately unsustainable lifestyle for me as well as my fellow beings on earth.
I now walk with others who, on a similar journey, are championing better stewardship of the earth. Last weekend was a special occasion where I took part in three programs all related to caring for creation. It kicked off on Thursday evening when I heard Roger Gottlieb speak to an audience at my school about faith and the environment. He, too, spoke about consumerism and the perpetual desire that accompanies it. For people familiar with religious traditions he advocated Sabbath – developing pleasures, like Sabbath, that involve little consumerism.
On Saturday I participated in Climate Rescue Day where more than 800 of us from Massachusetts walked from Cambridge to Boston – the last leg of a walk that begin in Northhampton a week ago. We worshipped, sang and danced together in celebration of the growing movement that is helping all the citizens of the world to adopt more sustainable practices. (Click here to view media coverage!)
On Saturday’s walk and at a talk on Sunday afternoon, I learned about CO2 and the need to reduce the levels of it we are throwing off into the atmosphere. I become more aware of certain behaviors I can now moderate and how I can lend my voice in encouraging legislation that can help us all in Massachusetts to improve our living patterns.
I am buoyed by the events of the weekend and the growing size of the environmental sustainability movement. And, I am especially expectant that we will solve the current issues needing attention. For those of us who have been shaped, consciously or unconsciously, by the Bible it is time we transform our understanding of the scriptural passage in Genesis 1 about “dominion” of the earth. It is a call from God to humanity for respect, love and care for the good creation – wise guardianship – not domination and abuse.
For more about climate change, Inspiration House recommends the following resources: