Early this morning, before the neighborhood had awakened, I listened and watched, and I heard and saw your current of natural life. There was not yet a hum of traffic created by a stream of cars traveling to the Bainbridge Island ferry, nor was there yet a buzz overhead as red-eye flights arrived into Seattle from Asia and the East Coast. The thrum of boats on the water and the roar of lawnmowers and leaf blowers had not yet invaded the morning.
Instead, I heard and saw your nature as it awoke: Twitters, trills, and chirps from unseen birds in the forest; a bee buzzed by; bugs flew among the flowers; and several robins hopped about on the grass, looking for worms. Later, as the morning became lighter and warmer, I heard Canada geese honking, crows cawing, gulls squawking, and I watched as crows carried twigs to nests and squirrels chased one another around bigleaf maple trees.
All around are Doulas firs, madrones, Oregon grapes, evergreen huckleberries, snowberries, Indian plums, and red-flowering currants. Trees and bushes bud, flowers flower, bees buzz, and bugs flit—all part of your exuberant presentation of new life in the spring. Though I cannot see them from here, I know that on the shoreline live crabs, shellfish, worms, and eelgrass, and that in the water swim sand lance, herring, salmon, and much more.
We are driving much of your nature extinct, and we are shutting off the sights and sounds of your artistic glory. We are designing a world where someday we will hear only ourselves . . . if we survive. Your patience in allowing our presence on your earth, though, is limited by the rules of the ecosystem that you built into your creation. As it is foolish to stand too close to the edge of a cliff, or to touch a hot stove, so it is foolish to destroy an ecosystem that was constructed in phases over billions of years–one that enables us to live, love, and pray. Clearly, you built physical rules into this physical universe in which we live, and we—in our selfishness and shortsightedness—are transgressing those rules.
However, knowing that you also built into us the capacity to act in your image, with love and wisdom, gives hope. I pray we use those qualities as genuine stewards of your nature, as many people have done and are doing now. Lord, please help us rise to our better angels and act towards your nature as you would have us act.
Thank you for my wife, sons and daughter, and grandchildren. Thank you for the friends in our lives. I pray that I and others work hard during our remaining years to conserve—for those close in our lives, and for others—the natural world of wonder that you generously allowed us to be part of. Thank you for the miracles with which you filled earth—the interconnected, interdependent, vibrant varieties of life.
On this fiftieth Earth Day, I thank you for the people who created the first Earth Day. The history reviews (in newspapers, magazines, and websites) and the celebrations (mostly online, on radio, and on television, during this year of coronavirus) guide and inspire people around the world. They inspire people who see, hear, and love your nature to come together and advocate for earth and to work to conserve nature—for us, for the generations that follow, and for the many species with which you filled the planet.