From my earliest memories, I have felt a connection to creation. Growing up, I had the freedom and privilege of exploring our yard and neighborhood, playing with friends in the woods, picking blackberries, biking and skiing with my family, and having a dog as my best friend. I continue to experience God most powerfully through His creation that is full of life lessons, beauty, seasons, extremes, peace, danger, rhythm, rest, surprise, and things that can’t be replicated, captured, or explained. The shifts I have experienced along my journey as an Ecological Disciple have been gradual and connected. I see a shift in myself from enjoying and consuming creation to an awareness of the connectedness of all of creation and my responsibility to care for it, for the sake of all of it. It’s a journey I am humbled to be on.
Connecting to my Origin and Myself
A number of years ago I attended a Luau in Maui and found myself captivated by the story the Hawaiians were “telling” on stage. As the history of a people played out with drums, rhythm, dancing and singing, I found myself longing to have my own origin story that I could act, sing or dance like the one I was watching on stage. At my son’s graduation from Montana State University last spring, I got to hear a Native American drum performance by a student. I felt the beat in my soul, deep and powerful and real.
Last summer I got to attend a Native American dance performance at the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. I heard and felt so many things that I believe and ways I want to live my life from a tradition that is different from my own: to live aware and in awe of my connection to the earth and all creation, with respect for all life, and with gratitude for all that creation provides for me. Seeing things from a perspective that is different from my own has been a crucial part of my growth from my first day on earth. Wisdom is “seeing things from God’s point of view” and I hope to continue my journey with wisdom and a desire to find the things I have in common with others rather than being distracted by our differences.
Holy Moment with the Smallest of Creatures: The Hummingbird
I stepped out on our back porch to hang our hummingbird feeder back after filling it. As I lifted the feeder back to its hanger, a hummingbird buzzed up and proceeded to feed while the feeder was still in my hand! I stopped breathing and could feel the vibration of the bird’s tiny wings in my arm, against my side, and deep into my soul! All I could do is whisper “thank you” for this lovely moment of connection with a delicate but powerful creature.
Finding What You are Meant to Do
An important shift in my faith and view of my purpose came from another bird. I watched a hawk soar on the thermals one summer day and realized the bird wasn’t hunting or traveling from point A to B, he just seemed to be moving for the pure joy of it. “Doing what you were meant to do” has become a theme I’ve witnessed in different settings: couples dancing together, a team of 9-year-old girls celebrating after winning their softball game, a waiter or waitress chatting effortlessly with customers while taking orders and delivering food, NASCAR drivers on the racetrack, a baby giggling, an accomplished athlete competing. Witnessing the intersection of gift and passion reminds challenges me to find those things I was “meant to do” and do them more often!
Taking Resources for Granted
I have never had to think much about water usage in my home town of Redmond, WA. When I was traveling with my college crew team in California, we shared a bunk house with other teams. I was brushing my teeth and let the water run while I said “hi” to an old friend I ran into. As the faucet was running in the sink behind me, another girl came up and shut off the running water declaring “here in California we have a water shortage.” I was surprised, embarrassed, a little indignant, and also forced to shift my thinking beyond myself to the conditions that others experience. It was a small but needed step toward a greater awareness of earth care and how to better love my neighbor.
From Location to Connection of Creation There
An outdoor wedding gave me a new perspective on what “physical space” can represent. For a few hours one afternoon, a grassy patch of earth beside the Puget Sound was transformed into a sacred space where two people committed their lives to each other. Family and friends gathered to witness, the bride and groom exchanged vows, and we all went inside to eat cake. A few hours later, the space where they had pledged their love was transformed back to a grassy spot next to a busy sidewalk by the water. People walking by had no idea what had taken place. I got to see that space with the memory and awareness of the special moments that happened there. Life is sacred and life lived out in our physical spaces is what makes them meaningful.
Leave it Better Than You Found it
As a rule follower and people pleaser, recycling can border on obsession and compulsion for me. When we became homeowners, my husband and I got our very own garbage can and recycling bins. I feel like we get “extra points” for filling up the recycle bin and yard waste bin and keeping as many things out of the garbage bin as possible. While the internal “score keeping” feels good, it’s a tougher shift to “reduce” and “simplify.” I’ve found supportive and hopeful resources through Circlewood and two of my favorite Earthkeepers Podcasts:
Carbon Offsetting: Caroline Pomeroy of Climate Stewards speaks to calculating your carbon footprint and carbon offsetting (how to offset the things I’m doing to the earth).
Everyday Earthkeeping Ideas for Greener Living provides information on “five easy lifestyle changes that can help us live more sustainably” including specific product links.
My growing awareness of the destruction and damage we have caused on this earth and to all its inhabitants can overwhelm and discourage me. I am grateful for resources like these that fill me with hope and inspire me to learn what I can and do what I can to make a positive difference toward a healthier earth.
Heaven: From Destination to Home
As a follower of Jesus, I believe in eternal life he promised his followers. But do I want to “go to heaven” when I die? The thought of living forever troubles me, especially a life completely disconnected from the one I live here on earth. But my favorite image of this mysterious gift is “coming home.” No matter how wonderful the trip or relaxing the vacation, I’m ALWAYS happy to come home. I love putting my things away, settling in to the familiar, and breathing in “home.” Feeling this delight after one particular trip, I wondered if this was a glimpse of what happens after my physical body dies. Maybe I will be “home” -somewhere familiar – with all things restored and the way they were meant to be. Where there is plenty for all. Do I wait for this to happen “someday?” Or do I join work that is already being done to bring this “on earth as it is in heaven” now? This is a shift I can live out each day.