The earth is angry and hurting. Monstrous hurricanes, uncontainable wildfires, flooding, drought in tender places on the planet. Like any wounded body, the body of the planet is reacting not just to normal cycles but to some abnormal stresses placed upon it. Its crust has been drilled, its air and waters poisoned; its meadows covered in asphalt and cement. If you just contemplate for one moment what humanity has done to our paradise, you will understand immediately what is happening now.
We think we are very smart but some of you may have read that there is a 3,700 year old tablet from Babylon that has things to teach us about mathematics. This generation does not have all the answers, nor have we even asked wise questions yet. I think the earth is in danger from our ignorance combined with our arrogance and pride. We have the capacity to destroy ourselves many times over. What makes us think we are wise or even smart. We are the mice who poison our own litters, the wasps that sting ourselves.
In Isaiah 54, there is a prophecy about God’s steadfast love, the divine heart that is grieved but cannot remain distant. One of the ways for Christians to answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” is to consider Jesus as the wise teacher who shows us that God has entrusted us with the mission of reconciliation of the people, the creation. But it takes courage to acknowledge that our present course must change, that we have learned that our cultures, our knowledge, our experiments have been dangerous and often ill considered.
Where do we begin when we have allowed mega institutions and rich men to control our education, our health, our labour? I think we begin in humility. We begin by acknowledging our weakness, our lack of wisdom. We begin by discarding all the language about separation that we have created, language of ethnicity, gender, race, religion. Jesus moves from a tribal perspective to a universal perspective. We must work at this also. The divisions in our minds will not disappear without intentional effort.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. It has been ceded to us for our comfort and well being, not for greed and not for hoarding. When we see ourselves as caretakers rather than conquerors, we will have begun to remember that the earth is for sharing not owning.
I think we need to learn how to pray again and by that I mean opening our hearts and minds to the deep well of wisdom and compassion that is the Divine Presence. It is time to pray that we will learn how to repent and rebuild what we have lost. It is time to experience our smallness in the universe and the enormity of the trust that has been placed in human hands. Praying is primarily listening into the silence, hearing the drum of our hearts, the whisper of our breath, that is shared with every other atom of earth. Praying means connecting ourselves to the mystery of life, rather than cherishing our lonely separateness
The practice for this way of being means being generous, hospitable, interested in other beings, unafraid of what we might learn. We need to remember that as the baptized, we are witnesses and missionaries in every single moment of our lives. How we speak to others, the degree of generosity and compassion we model, the joyful friendliness we share – all these behaviours testify to the Spirit of Christ working within us. And that Spirit calls out, “My saviour and my Lord” in our hearts because we know that Jesus shares this journey with us.
And so finally, don’t be afraid. That’s what the angels always say before they send us on a mission that is going to be challenging. But then there are rainbows and open tombs, there are everyday miracles, friendship, bread and wine and suddenly we know that not only can we survive this time, we can be agents of peace within it. And so a life: work, meaning, companions and peace at the end. May God’s holy name be praised!