Perhaps that is an unnecessarily sensational blog post title. Maybe not. I'll leave you to decide after you've read this blog series.
I read something recently in the news, and... It got me.
Like it reeeaaally got me.
Like at a deep, emotional, existential, soul level.
It's not every day I'm reading BBC's headlines, with tears running down my face.
I want to tell you about it, but, I feel like if I just jump in with the news report, you'll miss the heart, the journey, the 'spirit' of what I want to share with you.
So, first, some bible thoughts (obvs), then a comment on children's drawings, then a science report (cue: tears), then some thoughts about what this means for me, and for you and our children, and their children...
So, let's get to work.
Even though the way I read and understand Genesis 1 & 2 has changed over the years, it continues to move and challenge and compel me in profound ways. I recently read this verse and it's been sitting with me, following me around, like the scent of a delicate perfume:
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
Now, the Hebrew word for 'man' here is 'adam'. In the 21st Century, we hear that and just think of it like a first name. Like God was choosing between 'adam' and 'John' and 'Peter'. But, to really feel what we're meant to feel when we read this verse, we need to hold in mind that the Hebrew word for earth or ground is 'adamah'. Do you see it?
adamah (ground/earth) --> adam
So, the phrase in the Hebrew runs like this:
And formed // Yahweh elohim // ADAM // from the dust of // ADAMAH (ground)
Calling this creature 'adam' was signifying him as one of the ground, of the earth. His name mirrors and reflects the earth. Maybe our best word for this human-creature is 'earthling'.
So, in this creation narrative, this creator God reaches down to the soil and fashions into form a unique creation: the 'Earthling'. Then he breathes into this dust the 'breath of life'.
Take a quick moment. Look at your body, your created self. Consider your flesh, your limbs, your fingernails, your knee joints, your spinal chord, your billions of neurons, nose hairs, your ear cochleas, your eye retina...
Do it! :) This blog will be here when you're done.
I believe that the bible, right here in the beginning, is wanting you and me to see ourselves as intimately connected to, and a part of, and intertwined with the earth. That you and I are of the earth, with the very breath of God - the breath of love and light and life - in us.
I've often thought that God wants us to steward and cultivate this earth (Eg: Gen 1:28). I think that's true, but there's this temptation to see myself as quite separate to and from creation. That I'm kinda over here, and 'the environment' is this thing over there. Out there. Somewhere.
My relationship to the soil often feels nebulous, distanced and indirect. Yet that's the very opposite of the biblical view.
I am an 'of-the-soil' creation.
Sarah (my wife) was sharing with me recently some insightful thoughts from a guest speaker (Brian Draper) who spoke at her work - Tearfund. I wasn't there, but I've heard from Sarah and other friends how profound and impacting his words were. He made a striking observation that perhaps reinforces what I've said above.
Think of that stereotypical drawing of a young child. You know the one... A green smudge on the bottom (ie, grass), a few stick figures showing the child's family (usually with some awesome hair-do's), maybe a square house with two windows and an A-frame rooftop, some blue smudge at the top (ie, sky), and maybe a yellow smiling sun in the corner.
Could it be that the way we see the world, or the way that we're taught to see the world, even from a really young age, is that the environment, the creation, the earth, the soil, is not something we're in and amidst and a part of and intertwined with? But rather, it's something separate to us - a green smudge below us, or a blue smudge above us, and we're just in a neutral zone - between the smudges?
I'll get on to the other stuff in the next part(s) of this blog series/rambling. But for now, for today, I invite you to consider how you view yourself in relation to the world?
To the soil?
To the water in a small pond in Chile?
To the air in in a rural town in Bhutan?
To the woods of the Balkan forests?
Is it all out there? Are you separate to the smudges?
Or do you see yourself as an earthling of the soil?
This is Part 1 in a mutli-post series/rambling. Want to continue reading this series?
Part 2: Unearthing Responsibility (the biblical mandate for caring for the planet)
Part 3: The Railroad Switch (the two options we have for the future of our planet)
Part 4: The Report (exploring the IPCC report and what it means for us)
Part 5: In Our Hands (what can we all do to solve this problem?