God of the Wild Places
Standing above the clouds on a Nepalese mountain was sublime. Our party had climbed from sea level over several days to this point, making it even more special for the exertion expended. The wonder of that wild place is etched into my being. Surrounding mountain peaks poked through the clouds, creating a surreal landscape reminiscent of islands in a frothy sea. Times of wonder such as these, are spiritual experiences, which I attribute to a Creator who revels in beauty.
Eco theology was a recent topic of study for me, focusing on the relationship between God and ecology. It is a relatively new, and increasingly urgent topic, to inform a practical religious response to benefit our planet. A motherly role, that seeks to nurture, protect and restore the created order, is suggested. One that listens to incorporate the wisdom of indigenous people, who have lived lightly on the Earth for thousands of years. One that hears the suffering of the most affected peoples on Earth, (who have contributed least to the problem) and seeks solutions with them. One that seeks to work together with scientists and all who stand for our Earth and its creatures.
Given the vast destruction industrialised humanity has wrought on our planet, a new world view is needed. We are a co-dependent part of the whole of creation, rather than mere utilisers of its ‘resources’. Some of our dependencies have become apparent while others are still to be revealed. We humans are a needy composite of creatures anyway! Our microbiome of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses protects us against pathogens, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins.
Recognition of our role to nurture and tend our planet as a co-dependent creature, naturally leads to lifestyle adjustments. Consume only what we need and use everything acquired. (Indigenous people kill an animal and use it all, nose to tail). Choose local, minimally processed and packaged goods. Recycle as much as possible. Walking, bike riding, using public transport or even carpooling reduces our carbon footprint. Political activism to keep carbon (e.g. coal) in the ground, rather than the air, may begin to have an impact. Stand with those communities already disaffected by global warming e.g. in low lying Tuvalu (see www.unitingworld.org.au/paradiseandpain ) and Torres Strait Islands. Encourage creatures native to your area to thrive, by providing water and safe homes for them. Start a vegetable garden. Join our walking groups!
Embracing our wild connection to Earth and Creator enables hope and healing for us too. Is there a way you can begin now?
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The articles here were written by Peter Andrews on behalf of the Chaplaincy Team from beginning 2023.