By: Kelly Alexander
The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany
Be kind. Be understanding. Be caring. Be forgiving. Treat your neighbor as yourself. These were some of the messages that I learned in my (Episcopal!) household growing up. No one told me directly, “It’s important to care for the earth,” or, to be a good person you must respect the “riches of creation.” But for me, caring for the earth comes naturally. It goes hand in hand with caring for your neighbor, being kind, and being grateful for what has been given to us.
So. We put things in the recycling bin (don’t get me started on aspirational recycling…). We take shorter showers. We (sometimes?) drive less. We try not to waste food. We try to remember to bring our own grocery bags to the store. We say “no straw” at restaurants. We turn off the lights when we leave the room. We don’t leave the car running. We wash clothes on cold.
But these things are easy. These are things that don’t inconvenience our lives. These things do not move us out of our comfort zone. Why are we so comfortable using, disposing, consuming, polluting, supporting practices and companies that contaminate our air, land and water? Why do we ask for repentance on Ash Wednesday, “for our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,” instead of actually doing something differently? Why don’t we care for those who come after us?
What if we saw caring for creation not as a hippie, leftist or a “green team” thing, but simply caring for God’s creation, as something each and all of us should embrace? Can we all commit to do everything we can to reduce our waste? Can we reduce our use of single-use plastic (or Styrofoam), electricity, gas and water? In addition to caring for the poor, the destitute, the sick and the hungry, as Christians it is also our calling (duty and delight!) to care for “this fragile earth our island home.”
(And if you’re traveling abroad for work, pleasure or a mission trip, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org so you can find out how to make your trip more environmentally-friendly by not using bottled water).