My beloved Mt. Tam Church,
With the parsonage back yard facing an open space, it’s a bit of a wildlife park!
–the turkeys are back, only nine so far this year. And yet, no smarter than last year’s flock of twelve that, of course, we nicknamed The Apostles.
–the Red-Tailed Hawks are continuing to battle crows over territory and airspace.
–a new addition to the menagerie, great horned owls, have nightly hooting battles, beginning around 8 p.m. If we are home and lucky, we can sit outside with the darkening horizon and watch them “hoo-hoo-hoo” at each other until one leaves. We have read that this is how great horned owls defend their territory. So much more civilized than hawks and crows!
Why do I write about this? I share this in the context of the great climate change demonstrations and headlines that dominate right now. We’ve seen the changes in our own backyard: fewer songbirds and more crows, a diminishing number of squirrels, but fighters like raccoons taking territory, no more voles tunneling holes and poking their cute little faces up through the grass. The songbird that woke us up daily nine years ago no longer sings–has it moved on or simply vanished?
Listening to the grim reports leaves us sad, angry, dis-spirited. It’s made harder by the disbelief of international leaders who deny the human component in the cause of climate change and are working actively in deconstructing decades of legislation and practices that produce a clean environment and decrease the human impact. What’s even more difficult for me is that some of the most adamant climate change deniers are members of my family. How do we talk about this with one another when I feel that they are so wrong, maybe even ignorant or willfully foolish?
I think about Jesus with the Pharisees, those God-spirit deniers, who were more invested in the status quo of keeping the Law and the balance of the power structure with Rome than believing in the new revelation God was bringing. More invested in the past than the promise of a different future. Unwilling to listen or change so that God could do a new thing in the world. Jesus seems to have had infinite patience with them, as well as an occasional flare-up or angry word. But he continued to listen, teach and stand up. Perhaps he learned in the process. Most of all, he never gave up on showing up and striving for a relationship with those who would deny God’s new way.
So, with my family members who line up with those international leaders, I’m trying to listen and understand, investing in the relationship rather than winning the argument. I‘m trying to keep myself informed so I know what I’m talking about and what I am saying is not just uninformed opinion. And I’m focusing on the kind of compassion and love that Jesus had for those Pharisees along with an occasional really and kick-in the pants!
I will continue to monitor the health of the wildlife environment in the parsonage backyard. This year brought us a new creatures–the three baby raccoons born in the parsonage crawlspace last spring. They are now growing up and true to the word of the raccoon removal guy who assured us that they never move more than about 200 yards from where they are born, we are awakened often in the middle of the night with the sounds of teenage raccoons careening and wrestling and digging up in the backyard. As crazy as they make me, they are cute! And I will also continue to listen, speak, argue, care for others who disagree with me.
As well as work for a world that takes climate change and the actions we need to take seriously.
My beloved Mt. Tam Church,