I grew up in New Jersey, in a suburb of New York City, my house overlooking the Manhattan skyline. I have always considered myself a “city girl,” and I’m proud of it. At the same time, my parents did a good job of instilling a love of nature in us “city kids.” We had a relatively spacious yard considering we were in the suburbs, and my dad had a small garden with tomatoes, asparagus, cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini. He planted raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry bushes. We also had an apple tree, pear tree, plum tree, and a cherry tree, all in our backyard.
My dad, who grew up with the Passaic River in his backyard, would point out the river every time we went past, “That’s the river that runs through my blood,” he’d say. My parents took us camping and fishing, and my dad often escaped on adventures with us kids to explore rural places. My dad has a collection of good ol’ dad sayings, like, “Find the bluest part of the sky,” and we would each pick which section we found the brightest on a blue-sky day. Or he would say, “This is the day of the year,” each day the sun was shining. And of course, “Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses,” which reminded us to pause in our busyness to recognize the simple things in nature around us.
My mom, too, had a deep appreciation of nature, evidenced in her love for getting up many mornings to watch the sunrise, with her cup of tea and “Upper Room” devotional beside her. She instilled in us a consciousness of small environmental duties, like recycling and reusing. I remember saying as a child, “Mom, are you seriously going to use that piece of foil again?!” as she rinsed it off for the fifth time to wrap my sandwich for school lunch. It’s funny, now I find myself doing the same thing in my own kitchen!
It's important to me to preserve our earth and the natural world that my parents helped me to appreciate as a child. <<Tweet This
I also want to preserve the earth because God created it, and loving God means loving what God made - people, plants, animals, rivers, trees…life in its entirety!
When we love something, we naturally have a desire to take care of it. <<Tweet This
In a time when the issue of climate change is becoming more and more urgent, we Christians need to think seriously about what it means to love God and love the earth that God created. We have been too long delayed in responding to this issue. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) recently published a powerful booklet on climate change and the Christian response, particularly as these issues affect the poor . Says Leith Anderson, President of the NAE, “While others debate the science and politics of climate change, my thoughts go to the poor people who are neither scientists nor politicians. They will never study carbon dioxide in the air or acidification of the ocean. But they will suffer from dry wells in the Sahel of Africa and floods along the coasts of Bangladesh. Their crops will fail while our supermarkets are full. They will suffer while we study.” Many of us don’t know that environmental degradation, such as deforestation, is often a cause of poverty in impoverished countries around the world.
It is not only the poor who will suffer, from the effects of climate change, but the biodiversity and beauty of our earth.
For me, it has been eye-opening living in Belize, Central America, where there are over 350 species of birds in a very small country (not to mention the amount of bugs who feed those birds). The more I see of God’s awe-inspiring creation, the more I am compelled to work to save it.
I want to find alternative ways to deal with trash and plastics, instead of burning them, as they do here in Belize, causing higher rates of asthma for many people. I want to find ways to keep our water sources clean so that the many Belizeans who bathe in, wash their clothes in, and drink from the rivers do not have to worry about contracting water-borne diseases due to pollution. I want to stop the plastic production that ends up washing up in the marine reserve where we snorkel during our Marine Ecology class and end up in the stomach of an endangered turtle species. I want to preserve the nesting grounds of the Scarlet Macaw, a breathtakingly colorful bird whose habitat has been threatened in Belize.
I know I can’t do this all alone. We can all take steps, starting off small, but getting bigger and bigger. We can reduce our plastic use, buy locally and organically, fix and reuse instead of buying things new. We can find out what our own church might be doing to care for the earth, or learn about what other churches are doing and start something new. We can, we need to, get outside and enjoy God’s creation! Because when we do, we are reminded of its value and why it’s important to save it.
Do you have a favorite place in nature that is close to your heart…and why? What are some steps you can take to protect it?
A few resources:
Terracycle - A company that up-cycles, e.g., improves, various packaging that is normally difficult to recycle.
My Plastic Free Life - A guide to weaning yourself and your family off plastic use.
Composting Faith - A blog on sustainability: “It’s about following Jesus and living sustainably.”
For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care , by Steven Bouma-Prediger - A thorough book that gives a foundation on why Christians should care for the earth.
1 Boorse, Dorothy (2011). Loving the Least of These: Addressing a changing environment. National Association of Evangelicals.
Micalagh is a social worker, writer, wife, sister, daughter, community member, continually learning how to do a better job at each of these roles. She is always contemplating how to love others better and to enjoy the small things of life; to see God in everything and everyone. She is passionate about caring for the environment, experiencing new cultures, and also important, enjoying tea and/or coffee time. She currently lives in Belize and has the privilege of teaching and learning from college/university students! She is the Program Director of a Christian study abroad program: Creation Care Study Program (CCSP). Micalagh blogs at Only Small Things.