Day 5: Imagining a Desert and Finding Life

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Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn//Flickr

Readings for Today

On their recent eco-comedy album, Greenpieces, the Canadian band Local Anxiety perform a skit called, “Post-nuclear Fairy Tale.” The skit opens with Uncle Kevie reading his young nephew the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. However, as the title of the skit suggests, the setting takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. Hilarity ensues as the young boy struggles to understand everyday concepts we take for granted.

Uncle Kevie: “…and they lived in a garden.”
Young nephew: “What’s a garden?”
Uncle Kevie: “It’s a place with flowers and trees.”
Young nephew: “Like a biosphere?”
Uncle Kevie: “Exactly”

Uncle Kevie: “There were lots of animals.”
Young nephew: “Everyone knows that there are only six kinds of animals: doggies, cats, cows, chickens, pigs and rats.”

Tensions arise as the young boy cannot believe that apples used to grow on trees.

Uncle Kevie: “And on the tree was an apple.”
Young nephew: “Who put it there?”
Uncle Kevie: “It grew there.”
Young nephew: “Apples don’t grow on trees. You use gene splicing and put them in a polymer bath.”
Uncle Kevie: “They used to grow on trees.”
Young nephew: “Apples on trees? You’re weird Uncle Kevie.”

Sometimes we don’t know what we’re missing until it’s gone. It’s only when we imagine a different world that we realize how much Biblical stories rely upon the natural world. What would the story of Noah’s Ark be like if there were only six kinds of animals? Imagine a world devoid of the diversity of life – an inhospitable desert. As global climate change threatens the Earth, such a future seems more probable.

When Jesus entered the desert, he left behind distractions to find out what really matters in life. Only in that lifeless desert could Jesus find that it is life that really matters.

Reflection Questions:

  • Can we use our imaginations to enter into the desert and so become more aware of what really matters?
  • As we enter Lent, leaving behind life’s distractions, how will we become more attune to the life around us?

John Shea, SJ is a recently ordained priest who teaches biology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He studies parasites and their use as indicators of eco-system health. He plans to take Creighton students to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to do biological field research this summer.

2 replies
  1. Frank O'Brien
    Frank O'Brien says:

    Can’t we rely on God to take care of diversity of species, as He always has? Maybe we should create more species, and bring some back, and be like God.

  2. scotmart
    scotmart says:

    I think deserts get a bad rap as “lifeless.” Granted, they lack mega-diversity, and work as a landscape with less “distractions” but still…plants and animals live there.


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