How does reading ancient text from the Bible, guided by the commentary With Love to the World, have a bearing on my daily life in the 21st century?
One morning as I read from the book of Amos 7:1-17, I was challenged. Amos was a herdsman and fig-grower, nevertheless he was chosen by God to speak to the leaders and people of his day about the need for justice.
Justice is a word I’ve shied away from. There are so many situations in need of justice, I was afraid to ask God what he wanted me to do. I was afraid because I thought he would ask me to do something that was beyond me.
After reading about Amos, I decided to confront my fears and ask the Lord what situation he wanted me to seek justice for? The answer was, ‘The planet.”
Instead of asking me to do something outlandish, the Holy Spirit was harnessing my love of the natural world that has been part of me since childhood. But what did seeking justice for the planet mean? It was then the following incident came to mind.
It was a Sunday afternoon and the weather bureau had forecast storms. Nevertheless I had a yearning to see the pond near our home, which I call my sacred space, so hurriedly donning wet weather gear I set off.
From the bridge near the pond I saw dense black clouds in the west. I knew my time at the pond would be short. And it was. Soon I could hear an ominous roaring sound. It was the wind. It caused the trees around me to thrash wildly and fallen leaves to spin crazily. Hurriedly leaving for home I was alarmed to hear the thrumming of high voltage wires attached to a nearby electricity pylon, and rain plopping on my mackintosh. However all was forgotten when I rounded a corner near a building and saw reams of plastic wrapping and paper blowing from an open skip. I was dismayed and felt like David confronting Goliath as I tried to catch the swirling debris. I despaired because as soon as I stuffed a piece of rubbish into the skip, the wind whirled another piece out.
I couldn’t shift the two metal arms that were propping the lid open, as they were too heavy. Thankfully a couple joined me in collecting the flying rubbish, and the man shut the lid. Later when I saw the manager of the business and told him what had happened, he said in future he would make sure the lid of the skip was closed.
When recounting this incident, and other concerns, to our eleven-year-old grandson and his friend over lunch, I learnt that the friend had bought tongs, which he and our grandson had used to pick up rubbish near their school. Unexpectedly I had found young allies close to home who were also helping to bind up the earth wounds. I’ve come to think of the earth as the wounded man in the story that Jesus told. Perhaps at this time we are being called to be 21st century ‘Good Samaritans’ who care for our wounded earth.