Love of Nature
November 20, 2012
Excerpt from John 13:31-35
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Reflection by Donna Schaper
We usually think this passage means that we love one another...as in each other, as in human beings. It may also mean that we love mother earth. Or call her nature. Or call it the land. Or call him the Creator's creation. Don't get hung up on gender or names because none will cover the vastness of what we mean by nature, creation, land, earth or cosmos. In fact, if you want to know something about what it feels like to love something, try to capture it in a name. It won't work, but you should try because in the very failure love will warm and wow with you with its power.
Love the acorn and the antelope, the butterfly and the boxer, the crustacean and the cat, the donkey and the dragonfly, the elephant and the eel, the firefly and the fox, the giraffe and the genome, the heliotrope and the heavens, the germ and the gecko, the nematode and the nightingale, the iguana and the isthmus, the jabberwocky and the jade, the kangaroo and the koala, the lemur and the lobelia, the manatee and the Milky Way, the northeaster and the North Pole, the otter and the ox, the peony and the pea, the rooster and the roost, the stars and the sky, the tomcat and the tortoise—all the way to the zoo and the zebra. Love the grand disorder of nature, the way it is a game of Scrabble you could never win and would be forced into some kind of cheating just to make sense.
If we learned to love nature, then we might merit the title of disciple, the one who cares about what Jesus cares for. If we learned to love nature, we would have no fear of climate change. Climates do change. We just had the first frost of 2012. It was a hoar frost, the glistening kind that makes what is left of the grass a little bit greener. Now we can also anticipate an ice storm and icicles and the intricacy of a snowflake or a bonfire's spark. We remember the heat of summer and note that someone is the lord of the freeze and the thaw. We hear the hawking hawks, watch the wild turkeys trundle in a line across the road. The embers of the season show up in the red and gold of the sumac, which reminds us of the taste of a just right apple, a taste as frail and fleeting as a moth. The jam is in the jars, and the galaxy doesn't really care. First frost is as good a time as any to sit in some quiet place and to remember how much we love the earth, sky, air and water. Global scorching, which is a severe kind of climate change, doesn't have a chance. Nothing withstands the warmth of love.
Give us confidence to love what is left of nature. Amen.
About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her blog, Grace at Table, at donnaschaper.com.