In one short space of time I found myself in ecological anger and angst about the contrast between what was, and what now is, going on in the natural world. Ten days ago I caught snowflakes on a blue cloth, the feathery light ice crystals a delicate sparkle of structure, all angles and points in symmetrical forms. I pulled out a magnifying glass to admire the miniature wonders, surely a God-given miracle delivering moisture in such beautiful form. It gave a lift to my day to see such beauty in my own backyard.
In contrast, this week I read of the demise of the last male white rhino. The LAST ONE. Two white rhino females remain in captivity, but the odds of saving the species from extinction are not good. That’s a terrible word, extinction. Too many extinctions have occurred worldwide; too many species have disappeared, are gone, permanently lost.
Each extinction counts against us, against life on earth. Where is the anger? Where is the sack cloth and ashes? Do we grieve such a loss? These losses are us. Why? Because everything is connected. The life networks and earth infrastructures encompass all of us. They affect us and our food, air, water, garbage, sewage, life communities, living space, and everything. Everything is always and ever connected. Everything means everything. Life to one nurtures life to all. Damage to one, is damage to all.
Consider the following:
Destruction of forests cuts our lifeline.
An ocean full of garbage disconnects our lifeline.
Polluted air damages our lifeline.
Poisoned water destroys us and all life.
Drought–stricken trees disconnect our lifeline.
Loss of animal life interrupts our life networks.
Insect–damaged trees interfere with our lifeline.
Invasive vegetation disconnects our lifeline.
Invasive animals interfere with our life networks.
Sea life choking on debris cuts off our lifeline.
Loss of soil is a threat to all life.
Destruction of the land destroys life networks that keep us alive.
Where is the weeping and the wailing? Where is the grief liturgy for the earth? Surely, the season of Lent offers a chance to offer lament for the destruction of the abundant life given to us in the beginning. While we reflect on the suffering of Jesus, can we extend that empathy to the creation that is suffering? God’s creation? Established through the Word? Can we include the poor and the disadvantaged in our lament, those who bear more than their share of ecological devastation?
Can we take time to consider how much of this is our fault? A destructive culture? A personal lifestyle? Carelessness, lack of information, dashing ahead of the Spirit, naivete about nature, greed, selfishness—are we guilty? Do we care?
Fred Bahnson in his article on Ecology and Prayer suggests, “[Surely] if there is one service in the Christian year when one can contemplate our role in Earth’s Great Diminishment, the ecological crucifixion that is well underway, surely it is Good Friday.”
Dig out the sack cloth and ashes. Take time to grieve the losses. Weep and wail. Intone a grief liturgy for the earth, and consider in our day and age, “Who will stand in the gap and pray for the land . . .” and I add, all life on earth?
**(Eze 22:30-31 NIV)