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    The Gift of Two Steps Back

    October 3, 2021 by Carey Meadows-Helmer
    Filed Under:
    Pr. Carey

    Season of Creation

    Mark 10:2-16


    You may remember the hydro blackout in summer of 2003. Many homes were without power for up to two days.  Do you remember what you were doing? At the time I was a young teacher in my early twenties on summer break staying with my parents. And on that weekend I had a side gig of preparing the meal for my neighbours daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner with 20-30 people. I did not have a catering business. My neighbour knew I could pull together big events in my still learning to cook sort of way. So she asked if I’d be interested. I remember because the power went out at my home for the two days before the event. You can imagine the difficulties in preparing a meal under these circumstances. Fortunately, I had a good friend who was also at home with her family on the other side of the subdivision. Their power was on. She let me cook at her place. 


    I was please with what I was able to pull together under the circumstances. I even made some extra fancy appetizers. After, the mother of the bride thanked me and said it was delicious. She followed with: You didn’t do what I asked.  She wanted only salads. I made salads but I also added fancy appetizers. My thinking was that I went beyond what was required. However, the beyond wasn’t wanted or necessary. Our communication prior didn’t clarify this.


    The comment surprised me. I think it was helpful, as it taught me to listen better to what people want and don’t want. Just because I am good at one things doesn’t mean they will want that part of what I have to offer.  And you know, that’s okay.  Direct, honest, thoughtful feedback from somebody who cares about your wellbeing is a good thing…most of the time.


    Part of all human relationship is this delicate dance of communicating with each other and the give and take of listening and responding, of expressing our opinions and choosing to save some of them for a better time.  Let’s face it. Not everything we think needs to be expressed. Deep listening is no easy accomplishment. Most of the time we only get part of the story, myself included, but at least that is a starting point. 


    This relational aspect of listening and responding is an integral piece of the interconnected web of creation. 


    Today we are celebrating a somewhat new church initiative called the Season Creation. It runs for a month at this time of year.  The prayers, dialogues and responses from worship today have been crafted by an ecumenical team from around the world. Anglican Indigenous Archbishop Mark MacDonald is one contributor.  They are well written and help us to ponder our relationship with the earth and all of creation.


    We pause today to consider the necessary but difficult work of deep listening in human relationships.  It’s also important to consider how we listen to all of creation.  Does the earth communicate with us?  What do you think. 


    Soil tells us it has lost its health when plants stop growing vibrantly.

    Animals tell us they’ve lost their ecosystem and home when they start relocating and when species are threatened or become extinct. The air communicates a need for more plants that produce oxygen when carbon dioxide levels rise. The polar bears tells us how small temperature increases negatively impact their ability to feed on the less frozen tundra.


    Humans aren’t the only ones who communicate. The earth communicates with us. Sometimes we are too busy listening to each other and our own voices, our wants and desires, that we don’t have space to listen to the health of the whole cosmos. 


    And so this is a summons for us to be attentive to all of God’s good creation.  Because as the writers suggest, “We are made from the same stuff of the Earth and are cared for by our co-creatures and the land.”  You see, the design of creation is that we also are cared for by the earth and animals. If this relationship is strained and unhealthy, the earth and animals will not care for us, in the sense that they will be unable to provide the sustenance we need to thrive and survive because they have been depleted. Care is thus a reciprocal relationship between humanity and all of creation.  If it is not reciprocal, one entity/element reaches its limits.


    Another impactful quote is this:

    “For centuries, humans have ordered our lives and economies according to the logic of markets rather than the limits of the Earth.”


    In many cases, the earth is at the limits and we can’t push any further. We need to take a few steps back to nourish and tend what has been neglected and at times even exploited in our common home the earth.  


    This is part of Ashley’s vision for the permagarden. To nourish land that she sees as neglected and to build community around what is growing. 

    Later, during the general announcements I’ll share an update about the garden.


    The theme for today asks, is the earth a home for all?


    Jesus speaks of our relationship with the smallest and the most vulnerable. Those who are impacted economically, socially and spiritually due to unjust ways.  Jesus’ whole being seeks to remove the human, societal and cultural barriers that prevent the children from approaching and the cast aside person from being further marginalized.  


    In the world today, we go beyond our means, beyond the earths capacity to host us on so many levels. Maybe in those moments when we have to take two steps backs this is to our advantage.


    The beautiful thing is that life can be regenerated, renewed, inspired, breathed, and lived, in a moment, in a breath, in gathering, in a meal, in a garden. Life can and does grow from places where only devastation and hurt made their home because those are the places that the crucified and risen Lord, whom we love and proclaim and lives and breath, abides. 

    (Resources used from Season of Creation)

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