Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd and Amanda Davis Genesis 1:1-27 Reflection: Loraine’s Introduction Earth Sunday
God has created a living, breathing earth, one entity with multiple expressions of life. We are part of one global ecosystem, in which its various sub-ecosytems are interdependent and communicate in complex ways that scientists are still discovering. We humans are not the centre of the universe—we are just one, small component of God’s vast, diverse and very sensitive Creation. As we change one part of it, the whole of Creation feels the effects—whether that be positive or negative. Two stories may give us a glimpse into this multiple-layered system of communication—some even call it intelligence—that God has woven into this interdependent Creation.
Lawrence Anthony, known as the elephant whisperer, rescued elephants and other animals from human atrocities all over the world, including the Baghdad Zoo during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. He died on March 7, 2012 in South Africa. Two days after his death, 31 wild elephants from two separate wild herds walked over 12 hours to reach his home. It was 15 years since they had last been at his house. They stayed for 2 days and 2 nights without eating or drinking anything. The next morning, they left, making their long journey back home.
One of our congregants and her husband were given 5 Iris plants. They adapted well to their garden, began blooming each year, but something different happened in 1999, the year the woman’s mother died. That spring, they counted over 300 blossoms on those plants. The next year, they went back to their regular number of blooms, never again blooming to the extent they did right after her mother died. Her mother’s name was Iris.
We will never know the extent of our impact on this earth, but we can be pretty sure that it is much bigger than any of us realize. How we treat God’s incredible, sensitive creation matters very much. Let’s now listen to Amanda’s story.
My Passion for the Environment
By: Amanda Davis
When I was asked to talk about the origins of my passion for the environment, my original thought was : it’s not a passion. In reflecting on my top passions, I didn’t jump to include the environment as one of them, but it didn’t take long to realize why people put me in this category. My daily routine and approach to how I live my life probably doesn’t reflect an average person of my age and stage: for example, my compost bin is twice the size of my garbage, I prefer to use active transportation, and I try to support local brands and business wherever possible. Therefore, people may view my choices as an expression of passion whereas I view them as a way of life to live in harmony with our natural world. We’re guests on this earth and so much of human impact destroys it every day. So, anything that we can do to slow down or reverse that destruction can just be part of ordinary daily life. (Okay, this is starting to sound a little passionate!)
When I spend time at my grandfather’s summer place where there is no electricity or running water, I am reminded how people lived before they had Amazon, 2 cars per household and disposable coffee cups… In almost every way, their footprint on Earth was smaller. They bought what they needed, it wasn’t over packaged, they expected their belongings to last for decades and they worked with the land to produce food. I would like to believe that there was a respect for the awesome ability of nature to control everything. In contrast this past March we didn’t even get a snow day! A storm hit Winnipeg and instead of taking a step back and allowing it to remind us how powerful nature can be and the consequences of our miss-use, there were more cars on the roads than usual! I find it sad that even when nature took over and showed us it was time to pause, we pushed on to keep life going as usual. How long will this be possible?
I was brought up in a house and family where being outdoors experiencing nature was highly important. When I went away to school in British Columbia at 17 some people were experiencing compost for the first time. This was just part of my norm. In fact, when I went away to university and didn’t have access to a backyard compost, I would keep it in yogurt containers and take it to the university where the city picked it up in large quantities. You heard my love of compost in my minute for the environment but I mention it again because I really think it is the easiest and most obvious every day solution that individuals can make to live more consciously as protectors of our earth.
It wasn’t just outdoor time and compost that my parents instilled in my brother and me but also the introduction into living more simply. We would camp and hike across the country which teaches you how to leave no trace and how much being on this planet effects the water, plants and animals around us. I took this to the next level as an adult and did some back-country camping. An experience that truly puts you in your place when you have to figure out how to get clean water, how to wash your dishes without polluting the water and what to do when you’re face to face with a bear in her natural habitat and you’re in the intruder.
When I was looking to find a partner in life, I thought it would be especially important to find someone who believed in the same ideals as I do. So, low and behold I find a French guy who didn’t own a car and thought it was perfectly fine to ride his bike everywhere all winter! Active transportation is a big part of Luc and my life. Though we still get some strange looks in certain circles I’d like to think we’ve encouraged some people to make it a part of their routine. I will confess at the age of 31 I did buy my first car and I felt like I had sold my soul… to a Prius!
We are all part of a system and responsible to take care of it. As the New Creed suggests, we live in God’s world and with respect in Creation. How often do our daily decisions reflect the idea of respecting the natural world that we enjoy? For me, the natural world is easily connected to faith and spirituality. Not only in the awesomeness of the mountains and oceans and trees that live for generations but also, the power that it can provide for reflection and restoration for humans. Being outside, connected to nature in some way may be a belief understood across faith groups, perhaps one we could connect on. I particularly appreciate the belief in Canadian Indigenous spirituality that suggests we do not own our world, we borrow it from our grandchildren. One simple sentence that provides a great reminder that what we do or don’t do will live on far longer than we will.
As a result of the values my parents instilled in me and my belief that we borrow the land we live on, I have become a person who makes decisions with an environmental conscience most regularly. Although I am not making it my life’s passion, I am trying to lead by example. As a teacher I am able to do so everyday instilling little grains of environmentally conscious decisions in my students but also, I hope, in my friends and colleagues. It starts there, conversations, creating habits and normalizing a way of life that exemplifies living with respect in Creation!