Monday, May 9, 2011

Take a breather.

A life lesson from some humans.

“After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.” (John 6:14-15)

As I was walking to my observation spot this afternoon, I anticipated seeing the usual cluster of trees, the many dandelions, and even the fungus I discovered last week. To my surprise, a young man and woman had strung a hammock between two tall trees in the area. Initially I avoided them, afraid my presence would disturb their attempt at quiet time on the edge of campus. But as I sat in the warm sunshine myself, I realized that my human friends had the right idea. They can offer a lesson we all fail to remember at times: stop and steward your self!

Genesis 2:15 tells us our first role as humans in Creation: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” In Genesis 3, humans move beyond naming the plants and animals to cursing Creation through sin and being fully dependent upon it for survival (Genesis 17-19). Because of our dependency and natural desire for autonomy, we approach the earth with domination. Wilderness is now controlled through pesticides, lawn mowers, drills, and steel. We cut it down, burn it out, replant it, and transform it to meet our needs. But we often forget the essential role Creation plays in our lives.

Being stewards of the earth is more than environmental activism; it requires accepting Creation as a gift from God. Not only do we depend on Creation to meet our need of survival, we need it to simply be. In setting boundaries over time, economy, and even one another, we have become divided—exhausting ourselves for productivity’s sake. We are so busy “working” and “taking care” of the Garden we lose sight of simplicity. The Gospels tell us repeatedly that in spite of His active ministry, Jesus often left everyone to seek solitude, returning to nature and God Himself to be reequipped for His ministry.

It’s easy to embrace the beauty of Creation on sunny days in May; as soon as the weather calls for shorts and a cool glass of water it becomes “well with our soul.” Yet the pastoral landscape might be absent from our current concrete jungle, or (with fickle springtime weather) sunny days might be few and far between. Jesus did not, however, escape from the crowds and seek time in nature because he needed a transcendent experience or bouquet of flowers. He left to be restored. And so must we. In the midst of chaos, idleness, multitudes, or isolation, we must return to the Garden.

So stop, step outside, and breathe. Remember, creator, that you first were created.

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