Gratitude and Reverence

I received a little affirmation for my post yesterday. It is hard to see in it that I am an environmentalist. I really do care about the earth and I believe we humans are doing a terrible job of caring for it. We pollute its waters, tear down its trees, and screw around with the cycle of life by eliminating species. We, especially in the west, consume too much of the earth’s resources leaving little for the rest of the world.

Yesterday, I walked with my grandson to visit the farm down the road to buy some corn for supper. Charlie told me about his dream to one day buy a bus and reconstruct it to live in. I asked him if he plans to live off the grid. He said he does. Then he asked me what it means to live off the grid and I explained it to him. I said that I always wanted to do that until I got old. “It is best to learn to do it when you are young and strong.”

When we got to the farm, we bought some corn and lemonade from the farmer kids, supporting their summer business. Charlie had some questions about how the farmer’s wind turbine and solar panels work, so he gave us a tour. He showed us the gages that record the energy output and explained how he does an energy trade with the electric company. We stood under the turbine and watched the huge blades do their work. We were able to touch the solar panels and we could see the little filaments that catch the sun’s energy. We learned that they can use the sun that reflects on the snow in winter. “It makes up for the shorter days,” he said. He explained that he has to walk out onto this hill all year long to readjust the panels to face the sun as the seasons pass. I thought about how bitter cold it gets in the winter here in Minnesota. The farmer is young, I thought, but one day his children will do the chore.

Walking back to the little store his kids had set up, I asked him if other farmers were considering investing in alternative forms of energy. He said that he gets lots of inquiries. “It is a costly venture and it doesn’t always pay off, but I believe we have to protect the earth for future generations. Most people don’t care about that. They only care about profiting for themselves today.”

My reference in yesterday’s blog to the environment was tucked into a broader point about people minding their own business. There was an attack on people who criticize those who have large families while they themselves consume more than their fair share of the earth’s resources. I guess I am just as guilty of judgment as anyone.

What I think we human beings need to do is develop a sense of gratitude for God’s gifts and a reverence for life…all life. And we need to realize we are put on this earth to serve others and that means sharing the fruits of the earth. We need to make efforts to correct the harm and imbalance we have created as we do our politics and create our monetary systems,  as well as in our day to day encounters in neighborhoods and personal relationships. The question of overpopulation is not one I want to get into. My faith tells me that if we had real gratitude and reverence, the population would come into balance. Meanwhile, there are efforts to conserve and share resources, but these are far too small and infrequent. New technologically’s amazing potential for solving environmental problems is often trumped by those who seek profit only for themselves and only for today.

I think about the woman that Jesus encountered when he went to the Temple in Jerusalem who gave her last coin. He admonished those who gave only after their own needs and desires were met. Oh, we Christians have along long way to go.

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