SPIRITUAL MATTERS: Earth Day chance for public service

The snow is warmer so it must be spring. One nice thing about the snow is that it blankets the earth with a coat of pretty white and covers up all of the trash on the side of the road. At least until it melts and then there it is againthat pesky trash.
This time of year we carry garbage bags with us on our walks; picking up trash is one way we practice our sacred duty to care for the earth.
Stewardship, caretaking, and protection are key responsibilities of the “dominion” (Genesis 1:26) we have been given for the earth and all of her creatures.
April 22, 1970, the date of the first modern Earth Day observance, found me and my junior high school classmates stumbling through the mountains of Oregon’s Coast Range planting fir trees and picking up garbage in what was then known as the Tillamook Burn.
The Tillamook Burn was the site of a series of horrendous forest fires in the 1930’s and 40’s. Over 700,000 acres of 400 year old fir trees were lost due to the fires that were caused by careless logging operations and smokers whipped up by coastal winds. The first fire burned for nearly 3 weeks before seasonal rains doused the flames.
In 1973, the Tillamook Burn was officially renamed the Tillamook State Forest.
This was a testament to 24 years of reforestation efforts where millions of seedlings had been planted by volunteers and lumber company reforestation teams.
Yet, even today, the forest is but a shadow of what it had been and will again be long after all of us who participated in the replanting are gone.
I remember getting off of the school bus at the end of the day and walking behind my buddy Billy. Billy pulled out a stick of gum, popped it in his mouth and threw the wrapper on the ground.
I yelled, “Billy, what the (heck) are you doing? We just spent the day picking up garbage and here you are trashing our street.” He just laughed. I picked up the wrapper and put it in my pocket.
My oldest sonwas a member of the Clarkston High School Robotics team, Team RUSH. We participated in public service activities including cleaning up after home football games.
I have made the observation that people can be such pigs. I sometimes wonder if they know what a garbage can is.
Piles of cups, wrappers, junk of all kinds are casually left behind by the fans as if the world is their toilet.
People often ask, “What would Jesus do?” I can’t imagine Jesus throwing his trash to the side of the road or leaving it for others to pick up after him.
“The kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17. “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:21.
I believe the Good Shepherd would also be the Good Steward of God’s kingdom on earth.
“It (the Kingdom) will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, ‘Look, here!’ or ‘Look, there!’ Rather, the Father’s kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don’t see it.” The Gospel of Thomas 113.
Earth Day 2018, with all its projects and activities, is Sunday April 22nd this year.
Earthday.org is a resource for individuals, organizations and educators for ideas and to locate events.
This year the focus is to “End Plastic Pollution.” Plastics are a growing problem not only in landfills but in our oceans. The United Nations Ocean Conference estimated that the oceans might contain more weight in plastics than fish by the year 2050.
Truly every day is Earth Day when we accept our responsibility to be good stewards. We have the ability to respond with peace, joy and love as we engage in this sacred service.
May we all be awakened to the spiritual path of sacred service in God’s kingdom on earth.
Blessings of peace, joy & love. Rev. Matthew E. Long, Peace Unity Community

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