As both a woman of faith and one who takes conscious steps to adopt earth-friendly practices in my life, I have recently found myself increasingly fascinated by the extent to which the story of Creation itself embodies ecological principles. Compelled by Creation, I decided to engage in an open-ended reflection on the day-by-day Genesis story.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.Genesis 1:9-12
And God created… Balance
Too much of a good thing usually brings about adverse effects, even when a beneficial element is necessary to sustaining life: such is the case with water. Having spent a sizable chunk of my youth in New Orleans, I’m especially well-positioned to confirm that an overabundance of water is really, really, not a good thing. Too young to witness the horrors of Hurricane Betsy and long-gone by the time that Katrina wreaked havoc on the Crescent City, I can nonetheless attest to the ills of excess rainfall on a city that somehow continues to exist despite the reality that over half of its area floats precariously between one and two feet below sea level.
God, in all His glory, innately understands the need for balance, and this is what he gave us on Day Three of Creation, as things began to take shape on Earth. Walking alongside the shore and taking in our seas’ azure waters, gazing at the iconic amber waves of grain across America’s heartland, scaling the Rocky Mountains, or beholding the sheer magnitude of west coast redwood trees confirms the vastness of the Lord’s plan in creating a world that is not only bedazzling in its beauty, but also astoundingly perfect in its ability to sustain itself.
The Miracle of Vegetation
On Day Three of Creation, God displayed the genius of His plan, not only in bestowing our planet with vegetation, but also ensuring that plants had a means of self-propagation. In other words, the grasses, plants, and fruit-bearing trees adorning our planet bear seeds so that new ones will sprout after harvest. Through this ongoing cycle of plant growth, harvest, and re-growth, humans and animals are generously provided with the fuel that maintains them.
The efficiency of this miracle extends well beyond feeding the planet’s living species. Green plants also perform a beautiful sort of magic for our air, be it that in our homes or outside, around our planet: in their generation of oxygen, plants remove carbon dioxide, which, in concentrations over ten percent, can induce comas in humans, as well as cause convulsions and even death. Maintaining greenery on our planet, then, is necessary in order for us all to continue to live, to breathe in His spirit and inspiration.
Worship: Our Main Ingredients in Peril
Whether we light Shabbat candles and perform blessings over wine and challah, or break bread and take a sip of wine in making Holy Communion, it must not escape our notice that the elements necessary in our worship rituals derive from the fruits of Day Three of Creation. Were there no plants, we would not have the required grains for baking bread. Similarly, if from the Earth no fruit-bearing trees emerged, we would have no grapes for producing wine.
Tragically, America’s most renowned vineyards have been ravaged by forest fires caused by the changing climate. And likewise, crops around the world—in particular wheat crops—are beginning to be negatively impacted by the same effects. If we do not join collectively to address the damage that we’ve inflicted onto our Earth, soon we may be without our daily bread.
Maintaining the Balance
Imagine what it would be like if your nearby waterhole were so polluted that you could no longer enjoy a summer’s swim! Sadly, the reality is that nearly half of America’s rivers and streams and one third of its lakes are too tainted to safely permit leisurely water activities or support aquatic life. We owe it to God and the planet that He’s given us to take steps to preserve our forests, our seas, our coasts, and our heartland.
Even simple acts on our part can make an enormous difference. For instance, we can limit the amount of non-recyclable take-out containers we collect and throw away by encouraging local food vendors to purchase earth-friendly supplies. By researching how our local communities collect and process waste, we can assist in the effort to limit levels of toxins dumped into landfills and water sources. To counteract deforestation, we can plant trees to beautify our landscapes and ramp up oxygen production. We must love our Earth, our God-given home, as we exalt He who created it!
Find out how to recycle in your community with Keep America Beautiful.