An Easter Message from our Presiding Bishop
Sheila Brockmeier's meditation during
Evening Prayers for the Celebration of Creation
Earth Day, Saturday, April 22
I have been blessed to live in beautiful places during my life, even though many people don’t know that about Ohio. I am grateful that I had a mother who pushed us outside and thus I spent a lot of time in trees, watching birds and butterflies. I crouched beside streams and observed water striders, tadpoles and ducks. I have experienced the grace and healing of sunrises and sunsets. I know the joy of finding a hidden violet in the woods and being surprised by a bluebird.
My life experiences have led me to believe that the Earth is a sacred space and God has called us not to dominate and use, but to be fellow care-takers and care-givers for this beautiful planet and the life it holds and nourishes.
During my life, I have seen significant damage to the Earth and, also efforts to repair some of the harm done to our precious planet. I accept that I have been raised in and still live in a consumer culture that is always tempting me to acquire more, newer, and better things. It is overwhelming to see the consequences of global warming, the loss of habitat for wildlife and the threat to the existence of all kinds of creatures. In preparation for this worship and for our Adult Education program that starts here tomorrow, I have done a lot of reading and wondering: what is the challenge of Earth Day for me? I have recently increased my financial support of various organizations whose work I believe is effective in creating beneficial change for our planet. Still, I know I need to be more aware and more conscious that my choices as a consumer have an impact. I am not quite sure yet which changes I will make, but I pledge myself to continuing to learn and to make changes.
I recently read a commencement speech given by author and environmentalist Paul Hawken at the University of Portland in 2009. He told the students” If you look at the science about what is happening on Earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data! But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth, and the lives of the poor and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse! So, let us join with groups in Colorado and around the world that are addressing issues of poverty, climate change, water, human rights, conservation and more. Do not be put off by what seems impossible! Do what needs to be done. Find your passion to help restore the planet and heal our world. Mary Oliver tells us, “One day you finally knew what you had to do and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice”. None of us know all the answers and there are plenty of voices around right now telling us that capitalism and consumerism are more important than concern for the environment. But we have the ability and resources to seek information, we can pray for wise guidance and we can step out in faith, hope and humility.
I am going to close with a paraphrase of the opening to that commencement speech by Paul Hawken. I paraphrased it to fit Summit County. Even if we are no longer idealistic 22 year olds, we can still answer the call: “You are brilliant and the Earth is hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters and limos to your town. Instead, it sent you mountains, snow, sunsets, moose, bluebirds and columbines. Take the hint!”