God blessed [the humans] and said to them, "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground." Then God said, "I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. To all wildlife, to all the birds in the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground-- to everything that breathes-- I give all the green grasses for food." And that's what happened. God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good. There was evening and there was morning: the sixth day. (Genesis 1:28-31, CEB translation)
I really want to be able to walk out my back door.
I really want to just take the straw servers offer me at restaurants.
I really want to buy Nestle Pure Life water again.
All of these things have become problematic for me recently, and they are problems because of my faith. First, there is a robin who has built her nest right outside my back door, and no matter how often I explain to mother robin that I intend her and her babies no harm when I forget and walk out it, she still freaks out. I am causing her undue stress, and so I try to avoid my back door right now.
And then my mom just had to mention that she learned that since straws don’t get recycled they are causing problems for animals, who are choking on them. You know, that bird outside could really help me out and use some straws in her nest so I could think straws are serving a good purpose, but no, she just used sticks and leaves and mud. So I have to stop using straws now, but more than that, I have to remember to tell servers not to even give me one, because if it ends up on my table, it still becomes trash.
But I didn’t even need a straw when I was drinking my bottled water. My brand of preference was Nestle Pure Life. But one of the women in my church shared with me recently that the United Methodist Women are boycotting that water because Nestle takes over water rights of people and strips them of water. So no more Pure Life for me. Just nobody share with me any issues with Ozarka, ok?
Except of course I know I shouldn’t be drinking bottled water anyway, because it produces unnecessary bottle waste when I have perfectly good tap water and dishes and reusable water bottles in my house. But I consoled myself with the fact that I could recycle the bottles. Unfortunately, now that is messed up. We learned in just the past couple of weeks that for almost a year now, our City of Fort Smith has been sending the recycling trucks around, picking up our recycling, and taking it to the landfill. NOTHING HAS BEEN RECYCLED HERE FOR SIX MONTHS! Yet they continued to make the people of Fort Smith think all was well. They lied to us. It may have been a lie of omission, but it was a lie nonetheless.
At my churches, we have moments in our service when we share God moments. I shared with them this week that I saw God at work in the communal outrage. There was outrage about the lying and deception. And there was outrage about the waste. I feel like God was present in both of those rages.
Which leads me to how all of my latest inconveniences are due to my faith. The passage that opens this blog is the first commandment given to humanity: Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth and master it. Take charge of everything on the earth. Now, some Christians interpret this command to be permission to pillage the earth of all its resources; it was given to us so we can do with it what we please. But my faith looks at it differently. Just before this verse we are told we are made in the image of God, so when we are given the directive to master the earth, we are to do so the way God would. God spent all that time creating a beautiful, diverse, supremely good creation. What joy and purpose would God have in destroying it? We are called to nurture that creation as the caretakers of the earth. We should take it seriously, and there should be consequences when we fail, like getting fired if you are the Fort Smith Sanitation Director.
As people of faith we should hold others accountable, and I encourage the people of Fort Smith to continue to pressure the city to reinstate recycling. But we can’t just rely on hiring or voting in people who take responsibility. We all have to do our part. That takes work and, yes, at times it is very inconvenient. For me, it is my commitment to seeking to live more fully into my role as one created in the image of God that keeps me motivated to do better, keeps me from using my back door, or drinking from straws, or supporting companies that are bulldozing our world.
But seriously, bird, think about the straws in the nest thing. I think it would help us all out.