BY ANNA ROBERTSON | October 4, 2021
Sunday’s Readings

In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs us that, in order to enter the kingdom of God, we must become like children.

What relevance do these instructions have for us today, when, as the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change affirmed, human activity is causing the dramatic warming of our atmosphere and rapid deterioration of our planetary life systems? How might the ways of children—those who have most recently emerged into the web of life—reveal something to us about kinship in the Anthropocene?

One of my greatest lessons in kinship came from a two-year-old boy named Luc. On a blustery day near his home in Vermont, I suggested to Luc that perhaps the wind rustling through the trees’ leaves was in fact the trees’ way of showing their appreciation for him, each gust its own standing ovation. As the trees erupted into another round of applause, Luc danced and reveled in this celebration being held in his honor. In Luc’s innocence, it was easy for him to imagine that the trees were invested in his well being. Furthermore, he had no trouble entertaining the idea that he was worth celebrating. In other words, he had not yet learned the falsity that he was separate from creation, nor that he was unworthy of love and belonging.

Kinship with Creation in a Time of Unraveling

Kinship in this era of unfathomable loss and unraveling requires prophetic clamoring for the kinds of large-scale societal transformations that are necessary for preserving an inhabitable planet for children like Luc. It requires our resistance to the widespread culture of death that would deny the reality of our kinship. It also asks that we begin living with the kind of joy and reverence that such a miracle as our interconnected web of life—and, moreover, our participation in it—merits. This is where I think Jesus’s instructions come in handy: kids have a way of intuitively understanding what it means to be a part of the web of life. When I try to touch into my own sense of kinship with creation, I often draw on memories from my childhood, digging in the dirt or ambling through the woods, back when my sense of where I ended and nature began was less defined. 

In a society that profits from our self-doubt, we are called to practice radical trust that we are not only enough, but worthy of celebration. We are a gift to the world, and, through blessed interconnection, the whole web of life benefits when we show up with love. As we consider how we can care for creation, may we also stop to revel in the many ways, marvelous and miraculous, that we are cared for by creation. It is from this place—as whole persons moving toward trust in our worthiness, in our belonging in the web of life, and in its exuberant generosity—that we might begin to restore right relationship with creation, and perhaps even find joy along the way.

3 replies
  1. Eileen Quinn Knight Knight
    Eileen Quinn Knight Knight says:

    Anna prompts us toward reconciliation with creation in her statement: ” in our belonging in the web of life, and in its exuberant generosity—that we might begin to restore right relationship with creation, and perhaps even find joy along the way”. The right relationship can begin with the use of solar panes in our homes and the use of cars that are sustained with electricity not fossil fuels. Little by little we have less noise and less acquired stuff so we can live much simpler lives which do bring us joy. In ridding ourselves of material stuff and choosing those things that are at one with the planet helps us to live that simpler life. In observing children who are ‘part of the web of life’ we see them play with boxes and kitchen utensils instead of over extended expensive toys and they bring again that sense of joy to their lives with what they create.

    Reply
  2. George Marsh
    George Marsh says:

    Thank you for this gift of yours to me and all your readers. We are all gifts to others and to what parts of the world we can tend carefully, protectively for generations to come. God blesses you, I’m sure you appreciate.

    Reply
  3. G Freeberg
    G Freeberg says:

    Thank you Anna for this beautiful reflection.
    Our solidarity in prayer and action is with you. We are a retired couple. Sadly part of the generation that refused to see the destructive signs our privileged lifestyle has wrought. Pope Francis is nine years our senior but like you and your enlightened generation, he gets it, speaks it and lives the Gospel of Life.
    We raise our hands for God’s blessing upon you and all who hold God’s wondrous creation Sacred.
    Peace

    Reply

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