What are you doing for Earth Day? How about nothing?
Somewhere along my journey to try to understand how to be better related to our Earth and the rest of creation, someone told me the horror stories of theaccumulated trash at the first Earth Day festival. A quick online search resulted in a number of articles about trash complaints at more recent festivals. I remember, years ago, hearing one of my favorite musicians, Patrice Pike, play near downtown Houston at an Earth Day festival, and the inspiration from her music and the gathered people concerned about the environment pushed me to further analyze my own life and relationship with our creation; so I am aware of the importance of those festivals.
I’m afraid though, that “doing” more, especially if not rooted in contemplation and research, could just as often cause more issues, thus the playful introduction: How about nothing?
A friend of mine is a farmer in Houston (Yes, there’s dirt in Houston.) He rides his bike all over town delivering supplies to the farm and veggies to a farmer’s market. He also helps feed the homeless one night a week. I mention him because he’s doing all this in the big city. I ride my bike around my little island community, but it often takes me less time to bike than to get into a car to drive. His example of biking instead of driving inspires me: it pushes me to think creatively to have a greater relation ship with God’s creation. Doing “nothing” on Earth Day might look like this: Find a place near your home (walking or biking distance) to watch the sunrise as a family and pray Psalm 139 1-17. Give thanks to God as you all notice where you live; as you breathe together, give thanks for each breath. Consider walking or biking to church: try out a neighborhood church if yours is farther away (if you are a church-goer.) Write notes to tack to your refrigerator about what plants and animals also live in your neighborhood. Consider, when your family eats, where your food comes from, and how it fuels your presence on Earth. Plan to conclude your day watching the sunset and reading Psalm 104 together.
Taking a day to notice things like the day to night transitions, and being pedestrians or cyclists, in my experience, has a lasting effect on the rest of my life and the life of my family. It helps us slow down in other areas of life, and to reminds us to spend time with God in the good creation. It also slows us down in other ways that help us to consider more action-oriented changes in our lives and community to be better stewards of this creation God has entrusted to us.
Doing “nothing” can be transformative, and it takes a lot of intention. I invite you to do nothing whether on the actual Earth Day or some Saturday when you can avoid the frenzied activity that sometimes takes over our schedules. Be aware of the lovely gift of life and of earth. Give thanks to God for all things.
(From James Derkits, rector at Trinity By the Sea, Port Aransas, Texas. )