I live in a modest row house in DC, but, this weekend, I am living in the lap of luxury. I have a friend who owns a beautiful house in Virginia and she is hosting a bunch of us for the weekend. Did I say it was a house? Correction. It's actually a mansion. It is a gorgeous 8-bedroom, 5-bath, custom-built place with a glorious deck, king-sized beds, jacuzzi-jet tubs, and more. It's one...big..."WOW!"
And the funny thing is, my friend isn't even home just now. She is a gracious hostess who is willing to let folks use her place as something of a retreat center, even when she's out of town.
But what if the group of us who are here this weekend decided not only to use her home, but to abuse it? What if we decided that we were going to do whatever the heck we felt like with it, and began carelessly trashing it?! I'm talking about more than just leaving dishes in the sink. What if we dragged chairs across the hardwood floor, broke the garbage disposal, pushed the deck furniture over the railing, etc.?
How ungrateful! How short-sighted! How thoughtless and stupid we would be!
This thought crossed my mind today because it is Earth Day. The Earth is a home that is also on loan to us. It is not ours, but we have been entrusted with it. The idea is to use it, yes, but not to abuse it. We want it to last for the long haul, for our children and grandchildren, and all the greats after that!
I see this as a calling of sorts, since the book of Genesis says: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' Ruling is a responsibility, and it is to be carried out with justice and compassion.
What does this look like for you? In what ways are you caring for the earth (and the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and the cattle....)? I am still learning what this looks like for me. What do I do with the resources at my disposal? Do I toss things when they break or repair them? Do I recycle? I know that each and every choice I make can impact the earth.
Happily, I get glimpses of what good stewardship looks like when I see those who choose to garden, those who live less wastefully, and those who care for the land and the animals in ethical ways. In particular, just now, I am thinking of farmer Joel Salatin. In the podcast episode "The marvelous pigness of pigs," he talks about our God-given responsibility to care for the land and animals. His ethics inform his farming practices. How do mine shape how I live and the earth I live on? Something to ponder today and in the days to come.