As I sit down to write, winter is settling in at Hidden Acres. The snow is falling in earnest and the wind is blowing with conviction. Can snow fall in earnest? Can wind blow with conviction? I might normally say no, not literally. But I’ve been reflecting on Psalm 148. In that psalm both the winds and the snow are said to do God’s bidding. And they are among the many parts of creation called upon to praise God. If wind and snow can praise God, might they not also act with earnestness and conviction?
In my new role as Facilities and Environmental Stewardship Director, I have been reflecting on the mission statement of Hidden Acres: to “provide a welcoming, peaceful gathering place where diverse groups of people experience life-giving connections with God, one another, and nature.” One of the things I have been thinking about is how I see myself in respect to nature. Am I part of nature or am I separate from it? And does it make a difference? Psalm 148 invites angels, stars, the sun and moon, mountains, wild animals, flying birds and more to join together with people of all stations in life to praise the LORD. This psalm challenges us to see ourselves as part of God’s creation, one among a chorus of voices singing out the praise of the God who created us, loves us and whose strength promises to help us in our need.
But environmental stewardship also implies a special role within creation. In Genesis 1, God creates humankind in his own image and charges women and men with the responsibility of overseeing the rest of creation as God’s representatives. We human beings are part of creation but we also have a unique ability to choose to live in obedient submission to God our Creator or to reject him and his love. Stars praise God by emitting their fiery brightness. People praise God by yielding to God’s love and walking in relationship with him. Praising God in the way we treat creation involves understanding that the world is our responsibility. It is given to us to care for so that it can continue to be a gift from generation to generation.
Praising God in the way we treat creation also involves understanding that the world is a gift. The natural world is a gift of revelation, revealing the majesty and power of God. It is a gift of provision, offering us what we need to sustain our bodies and our lives. It is a gift of beauty, offering magnificent sights, sounds, tastes and smells that can fill us with joy. Finally, it is a gift for the curious, offering avenues of inquiry and study into how it works and what it tells us about reality.
How do I enjoy the gift of creation? How do I care for creation in ways that respect God’s intentions for the world? How do we do that at Hidden Acres? How can we do that better? These are some things I’ve been thinking about as the snow falls and the wind blows.