Caretakers of Creation
Last week I wrote about the vastness of Creation, and how we are but a small part of it. (Those who need a reminder can go to Google and type in “milky way you are here” and you’ll find many images illustrating this fact.)
Since then-even looking at this lectionary text for next Sunday-I keep getting reminded of the flip side of our relationship with the rest of Creation. I started the week at the vet with my cat, who suddenly seemed to lose control of her limbs. She had three short episodes of this in two hours, two of them while at the vet’s office (though, of course, they occurred when the vet and vet tech were out of the room). They took blood tests and said she seemed fine, and she hasn’t had one of those episodes since. She does have an overactive thyroid, which I had already suspected, so I’ll be taking her back in soon.
But for the last several days I have been worrying over one of my dogs, who has had severe back pain. After another visit to the vet, I have been trying to get him to take multiple drugs to ease the pain, and then to give him Prilosec to ease the pain that comes from taking the drugs. I can’t help but feel stressed by this. As a child I remember my mother’s great compassion for pets, and while in seminary my first cat died, which was devastating because I felt that God had given me this small life to care for, and I lost her.
We all have the opportunity to fulfill our role as caretakers of Creation, as God commands us. For me, it’s pets and my responsibility to you all as members of the Presbytery (remember, I think of people as part of Creation too). For others, it’s people healing from injury in hospitals and physical therapy offices, or tending to those who are on their way off this mortal plane. I cannot guess at how it feels to be responsible for one’s own children, though there is so much more in that relationship than just responsibility. Certainly Jesus’ comment about giving one’s life for those we are called to care for is most apparent in a parent’s love for a child.
Some of us are trying to reclaim another major role as caretakers of Creation, through farming. I know that in schools as diverse as Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles, my alma mater John Muir High School in Pasadena, and Kanuikapono Public Charter School in Anahola, Kaua`i, there have been farming initiatives for the students. In
my own very limited experience in urban farming, there is something healing and of course life-giving in tending to and witnessing the life force of nature. I have heard that there are major new initiatives to support community gardens, as a way of promoting healthier lifestyles through the cultivation of fresh produce.
This Saturday, our offering will go to Pomona Hope’s efforts to continue their community garden. This garden has been part of the partnership First Presbyterian Pomona has with their immediate neighborhood. In good community organizing fashion, years ago they had a series of meetings with neighbors and talked about the needs of the community. Out of that grew Pomona Hope, which provides after-school educational and sports activities, support groups for parents, art activities, and the Center Street Garden. You can learn more about Pomona Hope.
Like many of our churches, Pomona Pres is looking ahead to their next phase of ministry, and they are especially concerned with supporting the next generation as they grow into young adulthood and leadership in the church. The church has been a wonderful presence in the community and its leaders live out their faith in remarkable ways. For instance, I happened to google two of their leaders, Tom and Bree Hsieh, and came across an article from the Orange County Register about how they live within the median income for Los Angeles County, which enables them to give away much more than that each year. (I’ve known Tom and Bree for years and never knew this.)
Our offering will be given in memory of Jonah Hwang, a child of Pomona Pres who lost his life a year ago from gun violence. Again, I cannot imagine the pain felt by Jonah’s family, but the joy of his life is his lasting legacy. As Christ gave his life for his people, we as Christ’s followers must know that to be faithful is not to be protected from pain; we continue to share the risk of living in this very broken world. As we take up our cross and give up our lives to follow Jesus, we cling to the Resurrection promise that there is eternal love and glorious peace on the other side of the cross. We get a glimpse of this by observing the cycle of life that is lived out constantly in the world around us.
I hope to see you all for our Presbytery meeting this Saturday morning at Claremont Presbyterian Church. Please let us know if you can stay for lunch, so that we have time to catch up with each other. And bring your checkbooks for the offering.
And even if you cannot come to the Presbytery meeting, you can always give directly to the Center Street Garden.
Giving thanks to God for planting me here with you, Wendy