Creation is groaning…
January 21, 2018
Today is our Third Sunday Lord’s Table celebration. Each month we choose a social or cultural challenge topic for deeper consideration. In past months we have considered topics close to home including hunger and homelessness, and the stubborn circumstances of life which are sometimes capable of holding us captive and unable to move forward into newness of life.
And also as you know, I have been involved for the last twenty years directly in local organic gardening and care of the earth which supports all of life. So this month I would like to consider for a moment what it is that is so much in need all around us, but which we may seldom even notice in our daily lives and walks. Namely I would like to lift up the anguish of Creation which is beset by so much harm and injury at the hands of humanity’s efforts to live ever more comfortable and satisfied lives often without regard for the cost to the environment which continues to seek to sustain us along with the rest of life on this small little planet.
And in seeking to lift up a struggling Creation as our challenge topic I have chosen to introduce you to three of my friends…Ruah, Adamah, and Mayim Chaim. I could go on and on about their trials and struggles but I would prefer to let them tell their own stories…
Hello, my name is Ruah. You may have heard of me before as the first chapter of Genesis states that at the very beginning it was I who was hovering over the waters before the act of Creation. I have also been called the Spirit, or the wind, or the breath of God…such as when the Lord created humankind and the breath of life (that’s me) was breathed into the lifeless body whereupon the human form came alive. And aside from my more noticeable activities as chronicled in the scriptures I also stand in as a representative for all of the air existing within Creation.
As you all know, air is essential for most of life to exist…very few lifeforms can survive without some of the components that make up the air that surrounds the earth. However, I along with many other basic components of Creation are becoming very alarmed at how badly humanity is treating us, as though abuse and direct harm to us will not result in a negative effect on life including humanity as well. Speaking only for myself I am greatly concerned that my once pure and balanced expression has become greatly burdened with increasing volumes of contaminants. I feel untrue to my original purpose when I am used to carry particles and chemicals in an increasingly dense fashion which causes distress to life which breathes me in, as well as upsets the fabric of how earth and sun are supposed to relate resulting in unhelpful changes to the temperature of the earth at large as well as in the oceans making weather patterns far less predictable and potentially far more destructive. You have no idea how depressing it was that I was forced to carry coal emissions across vast stretches of North America where those acidic particles fell to the ground in the form of acid rain, devastating the waters of so many lakes and completely eliminating the chance for fish and aquatic life to survive.
It is true that steps have been taken as sensitive individuals perceived the mounting dangers of air pollution and the headlong rush towards unhealthy air was slowed down just a bit. But there is much more that needs to be done for my original goodness to be the only air available for the most vulnerable in society. We have a ways to go when in some countries the majority of individuals going outside still don a facemask in hopes of filtering out at least some of the particulates that are hovering all around them…or when the quantity of protective ozone in the environment continues to be depleted by the hydrocarbons that make up the propellants of common everyday aerosol products such as hair sprays and deodorants. And even though extremely harmful Chloro-Flouro-Carbons’s are no longer legal for use or sale in the United States they are still in use elsewhere.
And while I commend the awareness in general of the dangers of doing such damage to Ruah, there is much still to be done to clean up the excesses of the last century and to reduce and hopefully eliminate the harmful practices still working to minimize or ignore the effects of wanton corporate air pollution in the name of profit and greed. To be sure, I am capable of providing close to all of the energy needed by humankind through the power of my wind and the filtering of sunlight if I am allowed to do so.
Oh, and a word of caution…it is not too late to reverse the harm done to the air we breathe…but one day it will again be purified…with or without humanity’s assistance. So remember me each day when you first wake up and stretch away the slumber of night and as you breathe in deeply of fresh air…I still believe we can do wonderful things together…each and every day.
Greetings all of you! My name is Adamah which is Hebrew for land, ground, or soil…in other words I am the dust of the earth out of which Genesis tells us our Lord fashioned humanity calling it Adam…after me of course. In the very beginning when the Lord first began to bring forth the created order I was found everywhere and nowhere…literally the dust out of which the whole of the universe was created…I am in a manner of speaking, stardust, which at least to me is not only breath taking but kind of fun as well!
Anyway, as the stuff of the earth, as the ground within which so much of life is given birth, I may be underfoot, but I have always played a huge role in supporting all of the life God called into being. However for a while now I have been struggling with certain practices of humanity which have resulted in polluting my health and inner life to a point that vast quantities of me are no longer able to support life on their own but are now dependent on chemical additives for even the most basic of foodstuffs to have even a respectable yield. Over the past century or so the inner balance of Adamah has been taken away as modern methods of agriculture and a lack of basic respect for the life within me has all but destroyed so much of the microbial life that lives underneath the surface of the ground that in turn supports life higher up the line of Creation.
Sometime in the middle of the last century certain folks decided to try and imitate my goodness through the addition of chemicals. And while some of those chemicals did indeed provide certain elements of need to crops the overall balance that can only be provided by living soil was disrupted drastically as these chemical fertilizers resulted in killing off much of the life already present within the soil itself. That practice, along with overgrazing and single-crop farming resulted in a severe depletion of Adamah’s ability to produce healthy and abundant food for all of life. This, along with an ongoing loss of viable and valuable land to landfills or beautiful lawns again kept green and lush through the addition of yet more chemicals has greatly limited the land’s ability to produce the food needed to grow healthy human beings.
I need your help to find my way back into the holy substance out of which each of you was first formed. I need you to stand up for me and to find ways to do that which brings life and health back into the soil of the earth. One of the best ways for the earth to return to balanced health and productive ability is through the practice of sustainable organic farming…preferably on a small garden plot close by to where you live. That will please my friend Ruah who suffers so from all of the exhaust generated to transport food from one coast all the way over to the other.
So come back will you…join me again in the garden…there is something so special in becoming reacquainted with the dust out of which you were birthed…it is truly holy…come and see…
Hello my name is Mayim Chaim…my name in Hebrew means Living Water and I am found sprinkled throughout the scriptures and of course in the teachings of Jesus. I too was present at the very beginning of Creation when in Genesis we hear that Ruah brooded over the waters….yep, there I was watching the wind howl above me. I remember back then, soon after Creation really got rolling when water were pure and ran clear and free down from the mountains into the rivers and then on to the oceans teeming with life.
But alas, those days seem far behind us and frankly I am not sure we can ever get them back. For the waters covering the earth have been so deeply compromised by what many have long called ‘progress’. Supposed ‘advances’ in agriculture which subsequently leech out and run off into streams and rivers have caused massive poisonous algae blooms that are deadly to all of life, such as in the Mississippi Delta. Oil spills and super-heated waters released back into rivers and oceans, coal residue ponds failing and seeping back into groundwater reserves are all part of a pattern of willfully ignoring of the consequences of allowing the waters of the earth to be rendered unusable and are caused in large part by global corporate entities.
And that is just the chemical issues…along with that there are other sources of pollution that are dearly harming life in all of the earth’s oceans. Abandoned fishing nets and lost cargo from ships cause the death of many whales and dolphins each year not to mention the literally massive ‘islands’ of plastic bottles and other floating plastic debris in all of the earth’s oceans that literally choke out light and therefore life below them. Truly the waters covering the earth have been deeply injured and are in need of care and attention to bring them back to the fullness of life they once offered so freely to humanity. Fresh water fish which were once a staple in the diets of many peoples are now very much contaminated with heavy metals causing the government to recommend that healthy adults restrict their intake to no more than a few ounces a month while children and pregnant women are instructed to refrain from eating them all together. And in addition to these heavy metals there is increasing alarm and concern regarding the presence of trace amounts of leftover medicines that have been flushed or thrown in landfills that are not only being taken up by plant life and in turn ingested by animal species, but turning up in groundwater reserves from which we all get our drinking water as well.
I started out as pure and life-giving…now I am not so sure my name ‘Living Water’ fits as well anymore. Won’t you please find the time and energy to advocate on my behalf…so that your children and your children’s children might once again drink deeply of the waters so necessary for health and goodness? Thank you all for listening to us…
Air, soil, and water…all vital for life here on earth are being increasingly compromised in large part as a result of profit centered practices that are looking solely for short term gain and are not concerned with long-term sustainability. Each of these vital components of a sustainable future has been so adversely affected that they no longer are able to contribute fully to producing the abundance the earth must yield to sustain humanity. Only life begets life and dead soil or polluted or insufficient water can only and ultimately birth death. We are together all of a piece in this fabric of life, and repairs to the individual threads must begin to be made before the whole thing unravels.
But it will not happen all at once…and the challenges are many and are deeply intertwined. But we must find a way to start the process, we must find the will and the listening hearts that are needed to hear the Spirit’s call and to then engage thoughtfully, prayerfully, and faithfully in this challenge that so threatens all of the Creation that our Lord holds so dear…
In short, unless and until the church as a whole takes up the Spirit’s call to begin to steward and care for the totality of creation, human and non-human, animate and inanimate, the long-term sustainability of the human story itself will prove increasingly challenging if not close to impossible to achieve.
Jesus of Nazareth spoke often of the nearness or the immediacy of the ‘New Kingdom’…that Day of the Lord when peace truly reigns, when spears are finally re-fashioned into gardening tools and war is studied no more. That ‘Day’ is still the call upon our hearts, as is our responsibility to be those who work to find a way to begin to usher it into being. It is my deep belief and conviction that only by working to restore the original ‘Sixth-Day’ balance and goodness of all Creation will we ever come close to making the new kingdom of our Lord a present reality.
…indeed that is no small task…but then again, perhaps it can begin with a number of small tasks…for in the end the viability of all of life including human life is intimately connected to the health and balance of Creation as a whole. The vast, intricate tapestry of interwoven living and non-living things feels the pain of each part’s struggle, feels the hurt of each part’s “dis-ease”…but conversely…Creation restored and renewed produces such blessing and such abundance that the table and the cup of holiness can overflow for all once again…amen