Day 39: Sweeping Down Over the Plains

BY JOE HOOVER, S.J. | March 28, 2021
Today’s Readings 

Lent Header FINAL

Nebraska_USA1In the reading from Ezekiel today God declares that “[The Israelites] shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where their fathers live; they shall live on it forever…”

My grandparents were dairy farmers in northern Oklahoma. They also raised cattle and grew a wheat called hard red. We kids visited from Nebraska all the time. The land was vast, wide and stark and could make you sad just looking at it. It was also close to us. We liked it.

One of my brothers now lives on this farm with his family. Within the last few years a row of giant wind turbines were put up across the road from the farmhouse. It is startling to see these enormous gray towers, one after another, out there on the red dirt fields where, it is said, the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains. They are a nearly unbelievable alien disruption upon land that has seemed so unchangeable, so eternal as to be a kind of unending monologue, “This is land, this is land, this is land…”

I don’t like seeing these turbines where I used to just see dirt and horizon and my own grimy childhood. I like seeing these turbines because they are beautiful and dramatic and a kind of bracing confrontation every time you look at them.

God has given the land to us, to live on it forever. The question is, what do we do with it? It is a vast platform for wind power. It is pastures for running cattle and fields for growing winter wheat. It is a deep resource for “energy independence” in the form of fracking. It is plowed up and turned into neighborhoods so depressing you figure they ought to sketch out two or three psychiatric clinics right into the blueprints.

How we use creation, says St. Ignatius, can help us get closer to God. How we use creation can draw us away from God. The land can be used as a kind of causeway for greed-driven short-term thinking, for the reaping of immense profits regardless how it despoils the air, water, or ground. It can be used to bear fruit (crops, beef, wind, FIFA regulation soccer fields) that help us flourish as human beings.

A first question to ask then: do we ever listen to the spirit of the creator when deciding what to do with his creation?

Joe Hoover is a Jesuit brother writing and acting in New York. He also works at St. Ignatius Grammar School and America magazine.

1 reply
  1. Frank O'Brien
    Frank O'Brien says:

    A million questions andno answers, except listen to the sprit of the creator. I think we all have visions of what the Creator might want. Does He want energy independence, wind turbines, fracking etc? He left us to figure out what is best as a group, and we are trying that with government but it is hard. He does not give us a simple unambiguous answer, sure, there are many obvious “don’t do that’s” like throw trash out the car window, but most problems are more Coles, and we have to deal with our own personal peculiarities. Being President in this country is impossible and thankless.


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