Earth Day invites us all to recommit ourselves to protecting the earth because of all the ways in which the health and quality of our lives and the lives of generations to come are bound up in the health of our planet. Committing yourself to protecting something (or someone) takes love, understanding, and an appreciation for its value. So, how do we begin to love and appreciate the earth? Is it just here for us to extract whatever we want, selfishly? Or are we called to be better than that?
I wanted to share a personal perspective on these questions today. For me, the answer to this question is found in my faith. Put simply, the beauty of the world – from the grandest mountain to the extraordinary order of a thread of DNA – are expressions of God’s love. We’re called to recognize the world as a reflection of God’s glory, and to respond to love with love:
Psalms 19: 1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
This lasting beauty stands in sharp contrast to the brokenness of our times. The good news is that things are broken because of us, because as individuals and as organizations we have and continue to make selfish, unloving decisions and behave as if it’s every man for himself – despite what “the heavens declare.” It’s good news because it means we don’t have to change the world to fix what’s broken, we have to change ourselves – our hearts, minds, and actions.
For me, challenging myself has meant refocusing my work from saving carbon to serving people by rethinking what “building a clean energy economy” looks in response to the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” These same ideas are reflected in Groundswell’s values [https://groundswell.org/leading-with-values/], which include serving with joy — because serving others is a privilege, not a chore.
The earth’s beauty is lasting. It declares love in every respect. I hope that you will take time this Earth Week to appreciate its beauty and challenge yourself and those around you to love more.
In closing, I’d like to share this verse from a beautiful hymn that was one of my Mammaw’s favorites and is one of mine, too. You can also listen to the gifted voice of Geoffrey Golden, a gospel musician from Cleveland OH, sing it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHDFyj8X1-k
From “Great is Thy Faithfulness”
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
L. Michelle Moore