mother nature’s bedside

The other day I was driving through Waterloo Country. I saw rolling hills and blossoming trees. I watched the river ribbon its blue way round hereabouts and thereabouts and saw the sun sprinkle gold onto ponds and puddles. The sky was azure blue, the clouds like giant cotton puffs and the flowers were gently yawning their yellow red and purple ways into existence.

There’s no questioning: creation is beautiful. Yet that’s merely a side factor. Creation is valuable because it sustains us—and I think we’ve forgotten that in past centuries of exploring the insides of our ego.

The world for us has become a storefront, a stage upon which to display wealth and beauty. We’ve forgotten that we are not God, nor were we ever God, and our frail attempts at sustaining ourselves will ultimately fail because we’ve cut down one too many trees and treated creation like a recyclable postcard.

Recently I’ve come home to care for a mother who was sick long before I took notice. Now I’m quickly scrambling to make up for lost years, to cram in as many ‘I love you’s’ and ‘Thank you’s’ before time runs out. The problem is, her memory already has. While this is good in that she doesn’t remember our hard times, there is no possible way I can force her to remember the good. Nor can I step back in time and give her the affirmation she needed way back then. In other words, it’s too late. All I can do now is help make her final days on earth some of her best ones.

The Native Americans have it right when they call Earth our Mother. God created the earth to nurture and care for us, to give us oxygen, shade, to provide a firm foundation for us to walk on, to feed, inspire, and to provide healing elements through plants and minerals when we’re sick. Much like our aging parents, we take creation for granted. We assume it will always be here. But the earth is tired; the soil is weeping, craving rest; the trees are drooped and weary, lonely and spent, having to supply a world-full of oxygen with very few workers. We need to stop and notice Creation. We need to love it, to give back to it. There’s no way we can make up for past mistakes; but we can try and give the world some of its best final years.

Because before too long, the earth will utter its last sigh and pass away, and it will be too late to say ‘Thank You.’

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2 Comments

  1. Teneale said,

    May 22, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks for reminding us all to not only love earth, but also love our loved ones. It is too easy to take them for granted. I miss you. Can’t wait to see you in the summer! Hugs

  2. Annie said,

    May 24, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Emily! Thanks for this post. We should never take any of God’s creations for granted – either the earth or our loved ones – or pass up an opportunity to tend to them in love.

    It sparked a thought in me about beauty – and about the amazing capacity of God’s creations to have multiple purposes… I think God made us humans to need beauty as well as physical sustenance and nourishment. So the beauty of creation, far from being a side-factor, is as valuable to us as any of its other provisions. In earth’s store of physical necessities God teaches us about our dependence, humility, and responsibility. In earth’s store of beauty, both the soaring and painfully fragile varieties, God teaches us lessons we could not otherwise learn, gives us glimpses of things we would not otherwise see, and whets our appetite for a fulfillment above and beyond this earth. The beauty in creation sustains us in a different sort of way.

    The renewal of the seasons (as you gloriously described it in Waterloo Country!) reminds us of the hope and reality of new life, even as the fading seasons remind us of our mortal frailty and the perishableness of physical creation. Life as we know it has this cycle, and it teaches us wisdom and perspective.

    Although it’s hard to know for sure, creation may indeed be wearing down, in part thanks to human endeavors, but perhaps also due to the inevitable, sovereign course of events. I suppose this is because all things in the present creation are perishable, but we play an accountable role in hindering or helping that along in our lifetimes. Yet I take comfort in the thought that the same God who made this world for us, and us for this world – marred as it is by sin, and yet so resilient – has not left the story bound by this endless cycle, or doomed to an ultimate wearing down and passing away. God has promised us (and whispers to us through the beauty) that even our failures will not be eternal.

    There is a sense of urgency and significance in this lifetime. We should not be remiss in offering “I love you’s” and “Thank you’s” now, while we can. But graciously, unexpectedly, our Lord and Savior comes bearing tidings of a place where nothing is ever too late. Perhaps that is the definition of heaven, or of the new creation which God will present to us in our imperishable state, redeemed and transformed. “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God…” (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

    On further thought, perhaps the other place, which is the antithesis of everything beautiful, and a willful exclusion of the presence of God, is the kind of place where everything is always “too late.”


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