Friday, August 10, 2012

Hugging God's trees

Have you ever been so passionate about something you wanted to share it with others every chance you got?  Have you ever been so convinced about a cause that you were sure everyone would share your excitement if they only knew what was at stake?  And have you ever been accused of being judgmental when you point out room for improvement or controlling when you insist on doing it right? If so, then maybe you can teach me:  How do I spread the green spirit without isolating myself from my friends?

         Why is it OK if we neglect or abuse her only a little bit, or only sometimes?  Why is it OK to make fun of those of us that try to do the right thing, try to take care of Her, try to teach others how to take care of Her?  ("Tree-hugger" is generally not uttered with respect.) Why does standing up for my principles have to mean that I’m a bad friend?

Maybe I could use a lesson in diplomacy.  But maybe some of my friends could use a lesson in thinking-outside-the-box.  One thing’s for sure.  There’s no reason to refuse to recycle.
Or use cloth grocery bags.
Or replace lightbulbs with CFLs.
Or turn off the light in rooms you’re not using.
Or turn off the water when brushing your teeth.
Or use things more than once whenever possible.
Or put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat.
Or keep windows covered instead of blasting the A/C.
Or use both sides of a sheet of paper whenever you can.
Or simply listen to other people’s ideas about how to contribute to the solution, instead of being part of the problem.

If I didn’t think this was important enough, I wouldn’t risk upsetting my friends or coming off as a nag.  But I do think our planet is important enough to be taken care of, not just by tree-huggers (whatever that means), but by all of its inhabitants.  Respect where you live – is that really too much to ask?

Ok, now that I've gotten that off my chest, allow me to contextualize it perhaps a bit more productively.  Alex and I have recently become involved with the Green Team at our parish.  Our priest has registered our parish for a 2 year certification program, at the end of which we are to be "green certified" - the first Catholic church in our state to do so!  This has given me great satisfaction to have my long-held passion for the environment recognized as something important enough for a church to do as an effort to serve God's will.  

On January 1, 1990, our beloved Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote in honor of World Day of Peace "Peace with God the Creator, peace with all of creation. And exactly 20 years later, on January 1, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI wrote "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation."

The Bible is loud and clear on glorifying God through His magnificent creation, our Mother Earth:  Psalm 104:24-25, Isaiah 43:20-21, Job 12:7-10.  Specifically, God reminds us that our planet is on loan to us, and we are to be good stewards of its resources: Leviticus 25:23-24 says [T]he land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.  Thus for ever piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land. 

In Ezekiel 34:18, God admonishes humanity for mistreatment of His planet: Is it too slight a thing for you that you should feed in the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastures?  Or that you should drink of the clear waters, that you must foul the rest with your feet?  

In Isaiah 24:4-6, likewise:  The earth mourns and withers, the world fades and withers, the exalted of the people of the earth fade away. The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant.  Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty.

God is clear in His disappointment at our treatment of the environment in Jeremiah 2:7: I brought you into the fruitful land to eat its fruit and its good things.  But you came and defiled My land, and My inheritance you made an abomination. 

But I think the strongest admonition, the clearest sign that "God is green", comes to us in verse 18 of Revelation 11:  And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.  Ouch.  God threatens to destroy those who destroy the earth.  It can't get any simpler to understand that this.  And so, with this, I feel justified for being "green" when no one else in my immediate circle of friends was, for going with my gut that waste of natural resources and destruction of ecosystems is a sin! They call me "tree-hugger", and so I am blessed:

Matthew 5:11   

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 

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