Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Poem to Ponder

As a Christian who tries to do my best to care for this earth God has given us, I grieve sometimes at how we treat this gift. Myself included, we are too careless with how we treat the land, the animals, the rivers and the rest of creation. Over the past 5 years, my views towards the environment in which we live have changed. I've changed from the "It's all gonna burn anyways" philosophy to a philosophy of concern for the creation. God has, in my humble opinion, charged us as humankind to take care of nature (Genesis 1-2). And he is a God who delights in his handiwork. Throughout the Bible we see examples of His tender feelings towards nature. A friend of mine recently brought to my attention an interesting article entitled "The Four Most Important Biblical Passages for Christian Environmentalism." Here's a link to the article for those intersted:

http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/OTeSources/01-Genesis/Text/Articles-Books/Bullmore-Environment-Trin.pdf

This poem was included at the end of the article and is one of my favorites. Gerard Manley Hopkins is a favorite poet of mine, whose work is worthy of your time and effort.

God’s Grandeur

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 5
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 10
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Hopkins was obviously a lover of nature and one who saw the hand of God as the author of all creation. In contrast to the grandeur he sees in creation, Hopkins sees as well how generations of humans have treated the earth carelessly. And yet, ultimately, he is optimistic. Now, Hopkins lived and wrote in the 19th century and times have certainly changed since then. This world has been populated and tread upon even more since then. Yet, the sun keeps rising and setting day after day. As the wise author of Ecclesiastes would say, "there is nothing new under the sun" (paraphrased). Times haven't changed that much. I might be a little bold to say this, but what I believe Hopkins is trying to get across is that we are not fully worshipping God if we don't see his hand in creation and take care of what He has given us. We neglect God by neglecting his creation. And yet, He is still gracious--"nature is never spent;" He blesses us beyond what we could ever deserve and continues to bring sunshine and rain down upon us. Even those who don't acknowledge him are creatures who enjoy his workmanship. The sun on one's face is a gift from God. The beauty of a sunset is a gift from God. The whole world has been given to mankind. We must do all that we can to acknowledge Creator and Sustainer of the World.

That's enough for now.

Janine

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