7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
Speak to the earth and it will teach you, well it feels like this creation’s language has been pretty harsh.
The earth has been speaking, and it seems pretty upset. Between hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and fires, it feels like creation is shouting out at us.
“Hey! You listening?”
This creation’s language doesn’t seem to translate well. The book of Job tells us that in God’s hand is the life of every creature, that creation itself knows the hand of the Lord.
And we but need to listen, and the animals will teach us, the birds will tell us, the earth will teach us, and the fish will inform us.
They are speaking creation language. And it feels like I’ve lost my dictionary.
If all of creation is crying out, is speaking out to us, I wish creation had a better way to do it. The heartbreak and the suffering that has occurred these last few weeks has weighed on me and filled my prayers. If you, like me, hear this creation language of tragedy, I invite you to donate to organizations that directly help those in areas affected, like for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Lutheran Disaster Relief is one, but there are many others.
But apart from donating and helping, what else can we do? What is the earth trying to tell us?
Climate change advocates have said that this is a symptom of a larger problem. A symptom of our failures to speak to the earth and listen.
I’ve spent a lot of personal time and research trying to understand climate change, and I am no where near an expert. But I don’t know if my expertise on the issue really matters.
What I know, is that we are often not very good stewards of the creation God has given us to care for.
In Genesis, God gives humankind dominion over creation, but this dominion, this “ownership” as we often look at it, isn’t just a use and misuse situation.
This dominion that God gives to us over creation is the same dominion God has over us – it is a dominion of caring, of cultivating, of stewardship.
And so how can we steward creation? How can we speak to the earth and listen to this creation language?
Maybe it’s just listening to this heart-wrenching creation’s language that the earth is speaking. Recognizing that there is brokenness in creation, and also being able to recognize creation’s beauty. The earth speaks in more than just tragedy. This listening might look like spending time out in creation, it might be in being willing to recognize what creation is telling us in both beauty and tragedy.
We might find ourselves praying for those who are feeling the brokenness of creation around them. Praying for comfort, for peace, for healing, for hope for those affected. We might be praying for restoration of areas that have been affected. We might be praying for ways that we might act, that we might help, that we might make a difference.
Maybe it’s advocating for something bigger. And maybe you aren’t convinced on climate change, many aren’t. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t advocate for the creation God has entrusted to us. This advocacy might be in looking for ways our communities, our cities, our states, and even our country can steward together. This might be bigger than our individual selves and what we can do on our own in our own lives. Or maybe it’s as small as advocating for a family member to put a can in the recycling bin.
The first action, right here, right now, is to find ways that you can help with the current disasters. More than anything, relief groups need funds in order to support and to help restore stability to the areas that have been affected. I will say again, Lutheran Disaster Relief is one organization that allows you to choose a current disaster (there are many) and designate your funds directly to that relief effort.
After the immediate reaction action, it’s important to recognize that we are called to act as stewards of this world. As stewards we are entrusted with all of creation, with the animals, the birds, the earth, the fish, the everything. And that’s big. It feels big. And if we come at it as individuals alone, it is too big.
But together, one person at a time, we can make small choices that turn big. And maybe that’s just spending some time picking up trash on a God’s Work Our Hands weekend, maybe it’s trying to recycle more, to waste less, to make small changes in our lives.
Whether it’s with action, advocacy, prayer, or just listening, this stewardship, this teaching that the earth gives us, is about finding ways to care for people and places right now, in whatever way we are able.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.”
How might you “listen to the earth”? What might it teach you? What are some other examples of “creation’s language”? How might the earth speak to us in ways that are beautiful compared to the tragedies we have been witnessing?