Seeing Our Kinfolk
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. … We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. – 2 Corinthians 4:16, 18a (NRSV)
How does one look at what cannot be seen?
With watchful hope. Via the deep knowing of those closest to it. With new perspective.
For the longest time, the European settlers of New Zealand saw the Whanganui River as a resource to be exploited – so they dammed, dredged, and otherwise degraded it. Now, after decades of struggle by the Whanganui Māoris, the nation’s laws recognize Te Awa Tupua for what the river has always been to the native peoples: their ancestor and source of spiritual power, a living being with legal status.
Ecuador’s constitution declares nature’s inalienable rights to exist and flourish and give life.
In Toledo, Ohio, voters granted Lake Erie the same legal rights as people.
Little by little, in first one place and then another, those of us who have not known it are learning to understand what we had not understood: that earth’s waters and skies, forests, mountains, wildernesses, and countless plant and animal species are our kin. That we belong to each other. Better late than never, we are considering our responsibilities to the natural world as well as what we can take from it.
Catastrophe is upon us. But only by looking through this midnight can we see the rising of a bright morning star. And because God’s enfleshed love has come to us again, we do not lose heart.
Great Creator, give us insight to recognize the natural world as our kin. Day by day, renew our precious earth.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.