It’s a stroke of genius that this year Earth Day happens the first week of Eastertide. Easter, Resurrection, and a grateful tending to God’s beautiful, stunning, and suffering world are, according to the Scriptures, intimately interwoven. While this day was the brainchild of politicians (a Democrat and a Republican teamed up to make it happen, if you can imagine such a thing), the Church, as Resurrection people, should have thought of it first.
John’s gospel takes great literary pains to set Jesus’ story as the in-breaking of a new creation, a healing of the entire cosmos bloodied and scarred by human rebellion and hubris. And John wants to make certain we know that it was in a garden where Jesus’ dead corpse was buried–and that in this garden those courageous, bewildered women discovered that this corpse was no longer a corpse. It all happened in a garden. Maybe we thought Eden was completely lost, but Eden would be remade again.
And in Mark’s telling of the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to those stunned disciples, still rattled and big-eyed. “Go into all the world,” Jesus said, “and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” The gospel is good news. Good news for you and me, good news for every big wig in a fancy office, for every down-and-outer trying to scrape together a few dollars. Good news for every deluded person thumping their chest at the top of the pile, for every exhausted person suffocating underneath the pile’s crush. But the gospel is also good news for the whole creation. For razed West Virginia mountaintops, for oceans littered with miles of plastic islands, for skies grey with toxins. Paul tells us that creation groans–and we, bound up in creation, grown with her. But Jesus hears our groans. All of them.
My friend and teacher, Vigen Guroian, in his marvelous book Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening, offers stunning sentences: “Every gardener is an imitator of Mary’s Son; every gardener is an apprentice of the good Gardener of creation. Gardening teaches us that we belong to nature and are also responsible for it. Human culture and nature’s destiny are inextricably intertwined.”
May we–with whatever gifts and resources God has given us–be tender, creative, and wise gardeners in our acres of creation. May we be Resurrection people.
I offer this image of the Grand Canyon because it is for me one of those sacred places of creation