Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Eleventh Commandment

Last Sunday at St. James’, we had the opportunity to hear Kerry McManus speak about what we, personally and collectively, can do to live with a raised environmental conscience. She left us with a good challenge: The Ten Percent Challenge. In our everyday lives, if we could reduce, reuse or recycle 10% more than we are presently doing, it would make a small impact in our personal days; collectively, if the world would take on the challenge with us, the results would be in the miracle category.

Ten percent is not particularly difficult. If one would walk only or use public transit, leave the car in the driveway, one day in a cycle of ten, it would be an easy challenge. Choose Sunday as your day, walk to church, stroll along the river and head home. What a gentle way to honour the Sabbath, save gas and reduce your carbon footprint.

In the reuse category, a very easy way to get on board is to stop using plastic bags that the stores offer for us to carry our purchases. We keep our cloth bags in our vehicle at all times; I have a large black bag which folds into a very small sleeve that I keep in my purse. As well, we are using biodegradable garbage bags in our home wherever possible.

Composting is the bright star in the environmental three R’s. Garbage to the curb is reduced and the earth is blessed with the wonderful by-product of compost: humus. Humus is black gold; it is a thing of beauty in the gardener’s eyes.

Humus is the Latin form of Adamah. Adamah is the Hebrew word for earth. From Adamah is derived Adam~literally earthling. Add the Hebrew word Ruach~literally spirit, and one has the making of the Original Formula: Adamah plus Ruach equals Adam. God sculpted man from the clay of the earth, breathed life into the vessel and created the most sacred union: body and spirit. The second century theologian, Iranaeus of Lyons, said: “The glory of God is the human being fully alive.”

In our world, at this very moment, I sense two tragic disconnects that are so destructive that the future of the planet is in serious question. The first disconnection, and back to our Original Formula, is that of man from earth. In these times of unprecedented waste, squandering of natural resources, extinction of species, it comes of no surprise that human disease and illness is at its highest level.

The second disconnection: man has been filling himself with the breath of selfishness, acquisitiveness, power and greed. As Rev. Nancy Roth says, “we have fallen prey to a kind of spiritual and moral breathlessness.” This breathlessness is easily witnessed with the marked decline in church attendance and religious affiliations of any type. Not surprisingly, the rate of environmental destruction is inversely related to the decline in church attendance.

“Man was to be healthy and full of life by breathing in the loving power of God. But man polluted his interior environment. What we see around us in the pollution of the air, the streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans, our woods and forest and countryside, and in the jungles of our cities, is but an icon, a dramatic image, externalized of what man is doing within himself in the unlimited expanses of his “inner space.”, writes George Maloney in his book, The Breath of the Mystic.

Organic Prayer, A Spiritual Gardening Companion (Seabury Books, Church Publishing, Inc. ISBN 978-1-59627-063-3) by Episcopalian priest Nancy Roth is the first volume on my summer reading list. It is from this powerful little book that this week's blog thoughts were derived. Nancy defines Organic Prayer as a metaphor for both the individual’s contemplation of God and for the individual’s attempt to live in harmony with God’s creation. “Because organic prayer springs from the reality of the human condition, it helps us integrate as whole people-mind, heart, and body. It does not distract us with an otherworldly ideal of holiness, but helps us to discover the sacredness of our ordinary day-to-day living. It helps us to discover God’s presence in new ways: within us and within nature as well as infinitely beyond us, known through creation’s mysteries and miracles, from compost to columbines. It opens our hearts to compassion for the rest of God’s creation, and our minds to the truth that we are all interconnected. Such prayer delights in the earth, whose breathtaking complexity and beauty is an icon of the Creator, more skilfully wrought than any Byzantine masterpiece.”

The church, the Body of Christ on earth, has a sacred duty to lead with organic prayer. The ten commandments teach us that love is an action, not a sentiment. The eleventh commandment commended for this postmodern world: The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof: thou shall not despoil the earth, nor destroy the life thereon.

The Web Scribe

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