Monday, October 5, 2015

For the Beauty of the Earth

(It was my turn to write a column for the Waverly Newspaper - so here you are, my latest offering.)

Something happened overnight – as the rains moved through – it’s as if nature flipped a switch and Autumn arrived. The pumpkin EVERYTHING sales have foreshadowed Autumn’s arrival…along with our area farmers who have begun to bring in the harvest. It’s an every day occurrence now to have to slow down for lumbering grain wagons being pulled by a tractor up Bremer Avenue.

With the arrival of Autumn Friday night football games are even sweeter, and many of us will trek off to an apple orchard to pick up a bushel or a peck of nice crisp apples. (Have I already mentioned pumpkin everything??)

To me Autumn is a reminder that when God was finished creating the heavens and earth and everything upon it; “God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good.” (Genesis 1:31a)

This morning as I enjoyed the crisp, clean sparkling blue Iowa sky the words of this lovely hymn by Folliot S. Pierpoint came to mind:

For the beauty of the earth, 
for the glory of the skies, 
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

We seem to be pretty good at oohing and aaahhing over the beauty of our Iowa landscape, but we seem to forget that with goodness comes great responsibility. We, as co-inhabitants of this beautiful world, are invited to be caretakers of the world and everything in it: waterways, the quality of the air, access to food and water and shelter for all people are all part and parcel with being caretakers of the God’s good creation.

I think it is time for the Church to join in the call for the care of creation and I have been so inspired by Pope Francis, who just this summer called all people to “ ‘change direction’ by taking on the beauty and responsibility of the task of ‘caring for our common home’.”

So what does it mean to think of the earth as our common home? We will each have to wrestle with this one, but I think we could start the conversation by thinking about how we would treat a guest to our homes. Do we offer our guests a place at the table? A glass of cool water to drink? Perhaps a bed to rest on? Should we not do likewise with those who share our Common Home?

Last week I was a guest at the Catholic Worker House: Nashville Greenlands. During my stay I was welcomed into the simple rhythm of the community. We prepared and shared meals based on the food that was growing in the back yard, we enjoyed the quiet of the night on the front porch, we walked as much as possible, and spent time in conversation with our neighbors. Simple things that many of us would do more of often - if only we had more time in the day. And maybe that’s the point. In the busy-ness of our lives we have forgotten to stop and be present in the beauty of God’s good creation.

For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

Each hour and each day we have a choice. Just as many of us chose to step outside the other evening to watch the eclipse, we can (and should) choose to be more mindful of the gentle rhythm of God’s good creation and our common home. I honestly believe that our lives, and the future of our children depend on it.

On the sixth day God completed all the work that he had done, and on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3)

May you and yours be blessed as you enjoy this beautiful Autumn, please don’t forget to pause to take it all in.