Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
For some of us, this is a call to stewardship. For others, it is a justification for exploitation. As the 51st anniversary of Earth Day (earthday.org/pledge) approaches, this is a time for reflection – on this passage from Genesis and on what we are doing now, today, to address issues of the environment: clean air, clean water, and healthy ecosystems.
Bishop Curry is calling us to become Beloved Community. The diocese has created a powerful tool to help us on this journey – Sacred Ground. This amazing 10-session curriculum seeks to address inequities and injustices by calling us to learn, lament, and take action. It is important work, necessary work, and I personally am thankful for the meaningful discussions and relationships formed in each circle.
Sacred Ground focuses entirely on the human story. But what if we frame this in a far greater context? Beyond stewardship, to relationship – not just within humankind, but for all creation. If you look closely at the document Becoming Beloved Community, a larger scope is tucked into the stated goal: We dream of communities where all people may experience dignity and abundant life, and see themselves and others as beloved children of God. We pray for communities that labor so that the flourishing of every person (and all creation) is seen as the hope of each. Conceived this way, Beloved Community provides a deeply faithful paradigm for transformation, formation, organizing, advocacy, and witness.
The statement places “and all creation” as parenthetical. Let’s remove the parentheses. The spirit dwells not just in the human form, but in all the creatures, plants, and things inhabiting the planet with us.
“We have been given the power to invoke goodness and light, darkness and sorrow. We are endowed by the Creator with power to live our lives for the well-being of all. Heaven and hell are about living (or not) in right relationship with all of creation, of honoring or dishonoring all, and knowing the love of God by sharing it with all of our relatives: human, plants, trees, four-legged, winged, water, and earth all woven together.”– The Rt. Rev. Dr. Carol Gallagher
Personally, I struggle to mindfully challenge the role of “exceptionalism” in my life. Using less fossil fuel is critical to reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases – except when I “need” to drive across town to walk dogs with a friend. Eating local is critical – except when I “need” fresh raspberries flown in from Argentina for a special birthday cake. It helps to consider the hidden cost of these exceptions. It helps more to consider the hidden benefits to all creation when I set down the “need.” By seeing the sacred in everything, I am better able to see the impacts of my choices and actions.
Sometimes, the lift feels heavy – but never underestimate the power of the smallest of steps. What is the change you will undertake to bring hope by demonstrating your care for the world? In appreciating how all relationships are intertwined and rejoicing in ways to live in harmony, mutual respect, and love – we can see that we are not “saving the planet” but rather living as Christ taught us and truly becoming Beloved Community.
In peace and appreciation – Jennifer Wolf
Photo © Rangizzz