In this summer where extreme weather events are taking center stage in new and disturbing ways almost every single day – Canadian wildfires and their drifting toxic smoke, record global temperatures that the world hasn’t seen in thousands of years, disastrous flooding just last weekend in Vermont and the Hudson Valley, and so much more — the world of nature is likewise front and center in all of our Biblical readings today. It’s unusual, but revealing, that all four readings, including the Psalm, mention creation.
And, surprise, the lesson from the Word of God is about taking responsibility for creation. What happens in both the natural and the spiritual world in an important way depends on our continuing care. Our souls and our soils are not to be taken for granted.
In the tiny part of the agricultural world that I have a little expertise – commercial mushroom farming, from my time at Mepkin Abbey – I was amazed at how much care goes into preparing and maintaining the growing field. With mushrooms, it’s not soil and seed, it’s substrate and spore, but the principles are the same. Moisture, light, temperature and ingredients have to be just right if you want to have mushrooms that are edible and abundant. And, part of our work was saving that substrate after the mushrooms had fruited, and to then use it to create compost that we would sell to gardeners, and again a lot of care had to go into monitoring compost to make sure it was decomposing just right.
Pope Francis has often used the term “Mother Earth” when describing creation, not a new expression, of course, but one that implies a relationship between mother and children, which of course doesn’t just happen by itself. How are we doing in that relationship with Mother Earth? How are we taking responsibility for the care and fruitfulness of whatever little bit of creation has been entrusted to each of us? Water, land, food, energy – how are we tending to it all?
And if we’re not doing well taking care of the world we can see, it’s unlikely we’re doing well in the world we can’t see, that of the spirit and our soul. The two worlds are intertwined, as we hear today. It’s wonderful that we now have a community garden right outside the front door of the church. It’s even better that some of our most dedicated parishioners are also now some of our most dedicated gardeners. Long after we move past today’s readings from Scripture, in this parish, at least, the lesson continues, every single day.