You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
I love this time of year so far as the garden is concerned, for it is a riot of colour. There are yellow daffodils and white narcissus trumpeting the bright spring days, primula adorn the borders whilst the golden forsythia bushes smother the side fences. In honour of Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent – Laetare means Rejoice, I understand - the camellia bush has donned her pale pink dress whilst the Pieris japonica is starting to put on his bright red bracts. And the young robin is still hopping around seeking the bugs and insects I have disturbed. Truly the glory of God’s creation in abundance! However, in the midst of all this glorious colour and exuberant growth I am aware that I am a mere steward, my time here is limited and my garden is a tiny speck on the face of the earth that will continue in existence as long as God wills it.
I can understand St Francis of Assisi speaking of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. To him, and to me Brother Robin is just as much part of God’s Creation, part of God’s family as we humans are. Thus we humans all have a responsibility to take care of the planet for future generations. Yet in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ Pope Francis said: ‘This sister [the earth] now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.’ Note those words ‘our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her’. He makes it very clear that we humans are responsible for the harm done to planet earth. He calls each one of us to do more to repair the damage we have caused.
So it is horrifying to learn that America is going back on its commitment to work with the rest of the world – indeed, to lead it - in reducing the effects of harmful ‘greenhouse gases’, caused by burning fossil fuels, on the environment. CO2 is acknowledged to be a danger to the environment and to human health, yet it seems that the country would rather spend the money allocated to environmental protection on increasing its nuclear arsenal, even though there are already enough armaments in the world to destroy the planet several times over. Do we want to live in a permanent post nuclear winter where birds no longer fly and where the earth is too contaminated for plants to grow; or do we want a good healthy planet where Brother Robin sings and God’s good earth provides food and clean water for all?
As Christians we are called to treat others fairly, with respect and to think about how our actions will affect them. That surely must include taking greater care for God’s Creation, the earth and His wider family, the creatures and plants that inhabit it.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years