What is Creation Speaking to your Soul?
It is about more than picking up trash on the side of roads and trails. It is about more than signing petitions, or giving to the Sierra Club. Not that those things are bad, or useless, or too trivial. Creation needs allies, and any who would publicly demonstrate a servant’s heart. But it’s about so much more than all that.
This year, Presiding Bishop Rev. Michael Curry, and the Episcopal Church in the United States sent out a call to congregations and parishioners. Would they—would we—consider giving a pledge for creation? Would we consider how better to cultivate a relationship with creation that is loving, liberating, and life-giving? Would we commit to taking specific actions that move us toward cultivating such a relationship? There are any number of suggested actions available at the click of button, but even as we carve out lists of smart goals for helping the planet, I would ask you, What is Creation speaking to your soul?
When was the last time (or the first time) Creation spoke to you? Has her voice grown faint? Perhaps she has yet to call out to you directly, but only murmurs just out of earshot. Doing the things that we are “supposed” to do can be exactly what we need to get started. Showing up to clear litter from a trail can connect us with others who have been walking with Creation for some time. Planting native species in our yards or as part of a neighborhood project can invigorate us to learn their names both ancient and more recent. Going on guided walks can teach us not only the names of fellow creatures but also their habits, their preferences, and what it looks like for them to thrive.
What is Creation Singing?
It is springtime in the northern hemisphere, and the robins begin their gossiping before four o’clock in the morning. I would prefer to sleep, but the single-pane windows cannot shut them out. As light from the sun hits gobs of dew on blades of grass, other voices lift up their song. Wittingly or not, I am learning to listen to the distinct voices that make up Creation’s cacophony of song. Thanks to technology, these and many other nature soundscapes are available through websites and streaming services. Of course, even in the middle of so-called civilization one can still encounter the wind or hear the pelt of rain on sidewalks and awnings. I have also found myself mesmerized by the rhythmic pulse of water lapping at rocks and piers. But the most haunting song I know is a recording of a beaver. This particular wisp of sound has since entwined and nested itself in my memory: the punctuated wail of a beaver searching for his family after he returned to a den that had been destroyed by game wardens.
What is Creation Lamenting?
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now” (Rom 8:22), Paul tells us. The Psalms say that the earth is filled with creatures God made and who receive their rest and nourishment directly from God. “When you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to dust.” (Ps 104: 28-29) When God so provides for all creatures of the earth, who are we to impede their flourishing? The songs of Creation give way to lament when we stop to listen long enough. Creation invites us to enter into her wounds even as we revel in the praises sung in sunsets and galaxies.
This year, Earth Day coincides with Easter Monday, meaning that we can turn our prayers and longings for resurrection life to include all of Creation. In the Christian tradition we will greet Easter morning with the proclamation, “He is risen, Christ is risen indeed!” And yet, messianic shalom does not dwell on the earth. It is still the darkness of Lent for Chinook salmon, sage grouse, grey wolves, and pygmy rabbits. So we must wait with Creation in the hope of full restoration and resurrection; learn her songs, her laments, her praises.
Kristen Daley Mosier is a PhD student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She completed her MDiv at Fuller Seminary Northwest (Seattle) in 2012, and holds a BA in Art History from Western Washington University. Based in the Pacific Northwest, her research is focused on developing a theology of water that connects persons, places, and the experience of baptism through the life of the Holy Spirit. Kristen lives in the Seattle area with her spouse, with whom she serves the community of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, located in the Cedar River Watershed. Read more of her work at sermonsandbox.blog.