The Sea Around Us

Last week, we looked at our little planet suspended in space, and discovered that Earth care is about recognizing how precious everything is, how unique our planet is in all its diversity, and how our calling as God’s beloved is do something beautiful for God: to keep this earth beautiful, to be gardeners who add beauty and protect our one of a kind planet in its flora and fauna, its seas and ponds, and woodlands…

Today, we will talk about the sacred space upon which we live. This little elbow of land, this narrow sandy space, surrounded by the sea: this land of ponds, woodlands, beaches, lakes, seas and bays….this is the land of beauty and poetry….of piping plovers and osprey…of gentle waves and crashing surf. This is our home, where some of us were born and many of us will die.

This sacred spot reminds me of the land of my family, Scotland, a precious kingdom by the sea, as author Paul Theroux describes that land of thistle, cairn, and coastline. My Celtic ancestors referred to certain plots of land, islands, and rock formations as thin places, as translucent places where heaven and earth meet, seascapes and landscapes which evoke feelings of awe, wonder, worship, and praise…places where we encounter the holy in a gentle whispered wind, an apparently misshapen stone, and a craggy island.

The Genesis reading speaks of beginnings, and the beginning of the grand thin place, our planet Earth….

Let me be clear; Genesis wasn’t intended to be science; it is a work of faith and poetry, of awe in God’s grandeur and earth’s wonder. The author of Genesis didn’t know about the earth’s rotation around the sun, the Milky Way, the big bang, dinosaurs – he couldn’t imagine living like the Flintstones with baby dinosaurs, like Dino, sleeping in his tent.

But the author of Genesis knew something more important: he knew about wonder. He knew the sentiment of Psalm 8 and 148: when I look at the heavens in their grandeur, what are humans that you are mindful of them; he know of a lively world in which snow and wind and sea praise God, the world of leviathan sporting, that great fish, the whale delighting in the sea.

The author saw of Genesis saw the world as the gift of divine wisdom and creativity: he didn’t know about the slow processes of evolution, taking place over billions of years, but he was aware that all creation joined divine wisdom with an element of free play, of chaos, of surprise.

The author of genesis saw that it all was good….and that was good enough, despite the destructiveness of humankind, and he saw something more – that humans as crown of creation are called to be shepherds and gardeners of this good earth. Our vocation is to repent of our destruction, our pride and prejudice, and discover who we are stewards of life, healers of creation.

Today we celebrate the waters: without the seas, life as we know it would cease. The seas are the life-givers. Indeed, the ocean has been described as the lifeblood and lungs of our planet; the oceans are the source of the breath we breathe; that simple phytoplankton produce most of the oxygen on our planet. The seas hold 97% of the earth’s water, produce more than half of the earth’s oxygen, and take in carbon that could otherwise destroy our atmosphere.

Creation spirituality begins with wonder and amazement – how can all this be? Why this world, not another? What wonder it all is: the wonder of an electron microscope slide of a cell, of galaxies dancing, of a child growing in the womb, the wonder of a wave crashing, and tiny plankton, giving off oxygen and serving as a good meal for a whale….

Creation inspires us to gratitude: we say thank you for the wonder of life. It didn’t have to be this way but it is; we don’t have to be here but we are in all our wonder, ambivalence, imperfection, creativity, and destructiveness, but we are….

Creation inspires us to connection with all life – there is no other; we are joined in a fabric of land, sea, and air, and as Irma and Harvey tell us, we can’t opt out of ecology, despite our technological advances. We can’t opt out of relationship with the sea, storm and wind…

Our gratitude for creation and the gentle providence that gives us life inspires us to care, to protect and affirm the foundations of life, the plankton and the rainforest, to nurture the non-human world, to live more simply, to challenge our leaders to get their values in order, to look several generations ahead, and to love the planet with the same fervor that we love our nation.

And god looked out, said it was good, and gave us a task – to be gardeners of creation and caretakers of the deep blue seas and in light of the devastation we have wrought on sea and land, to repent, change our ways, and be healers of the planet…