Apr 22 2015

Honoring your Father and Mother on Earth Day

_DSC7241Generally, if someone asked me what I was doing forty-five years ago today I wouldn’t have a clue.  If you were to ask me that today  however I could answer your question.  Forty-five years ago today I was participating in the first Earth Day activities.  I distinctly remember getting to go outside with my fellow students at Lone Oak Middle School and pick up trash.  Today I observed Earth Day a bit differently, I spent some time volunteering at a community garden.

WY Yellowstone NP Grand Prismatic SpringIf you are a regular reader of this blog you will not be surprised to learn that I am a big fan of Earth Day.  I got excited about it on the very first one forty-five years ago and my excitement has only increased over the years.  I think it’s awesome that every April 22 people pause to remember what a wonderful planet it is we live on and how we all have a responsibility to take care of it.  Of course, I’m one of those who thinks every day should be Earth Day but I realize that’s not realistic.  Hopefully by observing Earth Day one day each year people will, in fact, begin to think more regularly about how they can better care for the earth.

_DSC3064I love Earth Day because it gives us all a chance to honor our Father and our Mother.  By mother here I mean “Mother Earth.”  I realize that there are some who believe it is pagan to refer to the earth in this way but I hardly believe that to be true.  In so many ways the earth is our mother.  According to the Scriptures we came from the earth.  Genesis 2:7 says “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”  The earth not only gave birth to us it has continued to nurse, nurture and sustain us.  Here, too, the Bible speaks of the earth’s bounty and how our needs are met by its resources.  Genesis 2 speaks about God placing trees on the earth that were both “pleasing to the eye and good for food.”  (v. 9)  It also mentions a “river watering the garden.” (v. 10)  In more ways than most of us could begin to imagine the earth serves as our mother.  Next month people will pause to honor their mothers on Mother’s Day.  It seems only appropriate that on Earth Day we stop and give honor to Mother Earth.

ME Baxter SP streamEven more important to me, Earth Day gives us a chance to honor our Father, the Maker of heaven and earth.  The Bible is clear in making the claim that the earth exists because God chose for it to exist.  As Creator of the earth this world and all that it contains belongs to God.  (Psalm 24:1)  I like to think of Creation as God’s handiwork.  When we pause on Earth Day to recognize the beauty and value of this planet we honor God.  We affirm with God that the Creation is “good” and that God’s handiwork is something to be admired, treasured and protected.  If we fail to do these things, whether it be Earth Day or not, we fail to honor God.

A major emphasis for Earth Day is caring for and protecting the earth.  For God, this emphasis goes much further back than forty-five years; it goes back to the very beginning.  God’s instructions for the first humans was to “work” the Garden “and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)  When we stop and remember our call to be good stewards of the earth we, once again, honor our heavenly Father.  We fulfill the purpose God gave us right from the start.

I hope you have had a good Earth Day.  I also hope that if you haven’t already done so, before the day is over, you’ll find some way to honor your Father and Mother.  Doing so will bring joy to the One who gave us this wonderful planet we call Earth.

–Chuck

(I took the pictures used here in Utah, Wyoming, Missouri and Maine.)


Nov 20 2011

The Air That We Breathe

Today I’m still thinking about air and how it can play a role in our spiritual lives. In my last post I noted that in both Greek and Hebrew the word for wind also means spirit.  To make things even more interesting, the same words that mean wind and spirit also mean breath.  This, too, has spiritual implications.  In the Genesis 2 account of Creation it says, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (v. 7)  Apart from the giving of God’s breath (spirit, wind) there was no life.  The first man may have had a body prior to this but not life.  It is God who imparts life and that life was given in God’s breath.  

Everyone knows that we must have air to breathe in order to live.  Without air we suffocate and die.  Air is an essential element for life.  Those who affirm God as the Creator of the earth can easily see how the air we breathe and that sustains us may be viewed as a metaphor for God.  Through His breath God gives us life.  Through His breath we are sustained.  As we breathe air into our lungs we receive life from God, we take in His very Spirit.

It is certainly worth noting that the same air that gives life to and sustains humans also gives life to and sustains the rest of Creation.  The animals that inhabit this planet with us breathe the same air we do.  The plants, likewise, take in and benefit from the very same air.  This is not only a reminder of our commonality with all other living things but also of the fact that all life comes from God and is sustained by Him.

After being told that the world is still being created, and that is it Christ who is reaching his fulfillment in it, Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “When I heard and understood that saying, I looked around and saw, as though in an ecstasy, that through all nature I was immersed in God.  God is everywhere…  Every breath that passes through me, envelops me, or captivates me, emanates, without any doubt, from the heart of God; like a subtle and essential energy, it transmits the pulsations of God’s will.”

We should be thankful for every breath we take.  Each gulp of air is a gift from God and an extension of God.  Every breath is a reminder that God desires for us to enjoy life and to enjoy Him.  I cannot help but believe that this has been His intention from the beginning.  The wind we feel and the air we breathe are perpetual reminders of God’s goodness and love.  For these ongoing reminders let us all give thanks. 

Understanding the connection between God and air might also serve as a motivator for us all to work harder for clean air standards.  It is obvious from Scripture that air is meant to give life, not harm it.  We have theological as well as health reasons for working hard to curtail air pollution and its harmful effects.  It is painful to think that something that is associated with God and life has come to be so polluted.  That is certainly not what God intended.  God’s breath, God’s air, is meant to be life giving, just as it was for the first human long ago in the Garden of Eden.

–Chuck

(I photographed the sandhill crane at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico.  I captured the middle image at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado.  I took the bottom image at Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia.)