Many years ago, during Lent, there was a great deal of anxiety, as adults were aware of the clouds of war appearing far off on the horizon over each of two oceans, one to the East and the other symmetrically to the West. Some adults were actively preparing: my gentle father was drawing pencil lines on very fine linen to diagram wiring for mammoth ships being built at the Navy Yard in Portsmouth, VA. His sister was working with her graduate students at a college 5 states away, where the following summer she was fatally injured when a valve was not closed, and she went to extinguish it, saving everyone else.
Those were among the experiences and emotions of the adults surrounding me, but I knew nothing of them. My memories from those days are sensory, preverbal, and they are largely beautiful. I sensed the holiness of the colorful flowers we saw along the sidewalks, the majesty of the tall trees with bark peeling in large irregular patches, and spiky balls that held many seeds. (I now know this tree as a sycamore, but then I thought the word “sycamore” was descriptive, the first syllable being “sick” because of the peeling skin of the trees!) There were few children, young men were nowhere to be seen. For the young child I was, there were a mother at home, a father who was engaged with me when he was at home, and all this beautiful creation around me that they loved to share with me. I had awe; reverence even, for all the wonders----butterflies and bees and birds, the green fingertips of daffodils reaching through the cold soil. And there was the circle of middle-aged trees within the woods on the neighboring property----I was convinced that this was a natural cathedral.
The church we attended weekly had wondrous music, mysteriously coming from the things called “pipes” that looked more like huge cigarettes to my young eyes. And the large columns encircling the nave looked very much like the tall trees branching overhead. In the churchyard were stone memorials, and three small rectangles “paved” with bricks, polished with age, like the brick sidewalk at my beloved grandmother’s house. One Sunday we placed a flower-- a rose I think—on each of these little unmarked graves.
In Sunday School, I came to understand that God had started from emptiness (pictured as a blank circle) and divided it into sky and land, adding water, and on and on. So all that I saw was endowed with God’s Creativity, right from the very beginning. (...forever and forever, amen!)
Here we are today, again in uncertain times: facing possible destruction of the Earth at our own hands (mindlessly, carelessly, or deliberately with the anger of war); painfully aware almost daily of injustice and cruelty; selfishly disregarding the wealth (of spirit, intellect, beauty, love...) we could so well share if we but notice.
As a child so long ago, I saw God’s Creation as the blessing it truly is, a gift to us all. Now as an adult I realize how much responsibility we have for loving this Creation, tending it appreciatively, and sharing it. My prayer is that we may spread this love to others, who also are God’s overwhelmingly generous creation! Couldn’t we see others as the gifts from God that they truly are?