creation care

Creation Care and Why It Matters

In today’s busy spaces of home, work, school, and schedule it may seem like “too much” to read about one more thing you and your family needs to “fit in” to an already impossible schedule. Recreation out of doors has become a specialty niche, another group you can choose to belong to or “identify with” in order to gain a place in society’s ever fluctuating social order. But that is not what I am talking about.

I’m not proposing week-long excursions, either as a family unit or that you pay precious dollars for your child to experience. I don’t mean that I wish for you to drop the savings account on camping equipment and force everyone to “Enjoy time in creation…damn it! We’re going on this trip even if it kills us and we are going to like it because it will bring us closer to God’s creation!” And I absolutely don’t want to add another thing into a child’s already overloaded schedule.

What I am suggesting is that reconnecting and reorienting oneself with the natural world in an intimate way places us closer to the heart of God.

Where can this be done? A small patch of yard with potted plants can be a great start. For small children, just a few trees is a forest. Public parks, while controlled in landscape and play options, at least provide grassy places for sitting and trees to observe. Spots in the yard to dig in the soil, gather fallen leaves, or just sit comfortably and quietly all serve as great springboards for Creation Care.

Photos by Emma Roorda  Justin Young  Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash  

In Last Child in the Woods, Louv recounts a conversation with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who was at the time President of the Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council. Speaking passionately about reconnecting children to nature, Kennedy said, “We don’t want to live in a world where…we’ve lost touch with the seasons, the tides, the things that connect us – the ten thousand generations human begins that were here before us…and ultimately to God” (200).

“We shouldn’t be worshipping nature as God, he said, but nature is the way that God communicates to us most forcefully. ‘God communicates to us through each other and through organized religion, through wise people and the great books, through music and art,’ but nowhere ‘with such gesture and forcefulness in detail and grace and joy, as through creation” (Louv, 200).

Not only do we feel a nearness to God when we place ourselves strategically in the natural world, we experience a smallness within ourselves, which positions us within the created order as God intended – as caretakers and watchmen of an enormous garden. When we still ourselves to notice things like blooming flowers, birdcalls, watersheds, and the markings of seasons, we see just how much has been going on around us without our notice and attention. And suddenly we are placed within eternity, as co-creators with endless opportunity to partake in a richness we had previously missed.

Nature presents the young with something so much greater than they are; it offers an environment where they can easily contemplate infinity and eternity.”

Louv, Last Child in the Woods, 98

Now step back and look at the person who has themselves been recreated. They have intimacy with God by thinking about how (and perhaps “why”) he made things as he did. They wonder about many of these things daily. These people have developed critical thinking skills like observation, reflection, evaluation, inference-making, problem solving, and decision making. They are able to see themselves as part of whole, yet also as integral to its health and well-being. And they are able to contemplate time and eternity, placing themselves rightly within God’s story.

views from my “sit spot” in our backyard

I don’t know the names of all the flowers or birds that appear in my backyard – yet. Indeed it would probably take me most of the rest of my life to learn them. But I am being changed in the process of learning them. I spend more time in wonder and in awe of a creator with the capacity for such variety, substance, and wit. As I practice sitting and observing, I find myself in dialog with a Creator who created in abundance – not scarcity. This shalom realization, that there is enough for me and for his created order, is something I want to share with children. I believe it will also bring them a “peace that passes understanding.”

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