Beginnings are perhaps an illusion. Take, for instance, this group–PAUSE (Peaceful Action Uniting Stewards of the Earth). If we say the group began at an interfaith prayer service as part of the August 2016 Hands Across Our Land action at the James River Bridge, that would be only partially accurate. Each of us was already invested in the stewardship of the earth. Each of us present yearned for a sustainable future. So, when we came together that day, we recognized ourselves in one another…and felt the power of that connection.
As an Episcopal priest, I’m aware of the mandate of my own tradition to be a good steward of the Creation. I’m also aware that it’s a mandate shared by other Christians, and Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and those of other formal faith traditions, as well as by those who claim no formal affiliation or may define themselves as agnostic or atheist.
It’s a sacred trust we share, this intuitive mandate to be responsible stewards of the earth. So, it comes as a shock, at least to me, when that intuitive mandate isn’t perceived by some; or, if perceived, is ignored in favor of exploitation motivated by greed and temporary profit. Shock can often lead to despair. Which is why it’s good to be together to remind ourselves of things that matter most…and to join hands in bearing witness to them.
Wendell Berry is a favorite poet who often helps to reframe despair for me. “The Peace of Wild Things” calls me to be in a different space–a space to which we may each be called to do our best work as stewards of the earth.
“The Peace of Wild Things”
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
May it be so. -Marion E. Kanour