My first official stop as Moderator was on the beach at Naramata Centre on Wednesday, August 19. Within a cathedral of light reflected by earth, lake, and sky, the community gathered for worship. Lake Okanagan was at my back as I donned the moderatorial stole for the first time since the installation service. As I draped it over my shoulders, the fringe of the stole touched the sand at my feet. My immediate reaction was to gasp and blurt out to the crowd “Oops—don’t tell anyone it touched the ground!”
What was that about?! General Council had just heard me speak about God’s call to listen deeply to soul, one another, and creation. And yet dualistic, either-or thinking about that which is sacred and that which isn’t still resides deeply within me.
A few days later, I told David Wilson of The Observer that I’m inviting the church into covenantal conversations through which we can enter more deeply into our relationship—weaving with soul, community, and creation. As I pay attention to my own relationship with the earth, I hear the psalmist’s declaration (Psalm 24:1) that the earth and all of its fullness belongs to God. I hear in this a call to accept my own sacredness within the earth’s sacredness. With words attributed to Chief Seattle, the earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.
And we—and the earth—belong to God. We are like family with inseparable bonds. A friend recently told me that he finds the language of kinship more helpful than the language of stewardship for describing our ideal relationship with creation. I like it. Kin offer us life lessons. I’m now more inclined, for instance, to notice the life lessons of plants. For one thing, winter dormancy periods allow for the root growth necessary for more visible growth in the seasons of spring and summer. We could benefit from a better understanding of the necessity of periodic dormancy for our growth as human beings. This could be a good way to respond to the psalmist’s words and to know that we are sacred, as is the earth.
I am speaking of the earth more as kin these days—and I’m listening to the earth in new ways too. The new liturgical Season of Creation, culminating in Thanksgiving Sunday, will become more familiar to us and will help us delve further into this theme spiritually, thanks to the action of the 40th General Council.
The earth has already had a voice in my decision-making about travel on behalf of the church, for instance. I’ll tell you more about the implications of that in future posts.
In the meantime, may Thanksgiving be a sacred time for you and your community in the abundant life of Christ. And it would be a great blessing to me to hear about your thoughts on questions such as these:
How would you describe your relationship with creation?
What is helping you to feel more like kin?
What is separating you from a sense of kinship with creation?