Childhood Lessons on the Environment

My parents taught their children with parables – not the Biblical variety, but those homespun truths which grab wisdom by the tail. If something needed fixing, we’d hear “A stitch in time saves nine. ” My sister was often the recipient of “Don’t’ cut off your nose to spite your face, ” every time she and her friend got into an argument and stopped talking to each other. When we were about to short-change a project we were working on, my mother would tell us, “A job worth doing is worth doing well.” Both parents were especially fond of letting us know not to “count our chickens before they’re hatched.”

My parents were the first naturalists I knew. They cared about the environment and taught each of us to care also. I learned from them about our interconnected world. In the rural area I grew up in, nature’s lessons were all around us. During the dry years our neighbor’s crops died in the field, and the lake that supported our fishing resort dropped to unhealthy levels. From an early age I learned how I used or misused the earth mattered. They taught us of the interconnected nature of earth and all of earth’s creatures.

Later I would hear more of the Biblical worldview of earth and God’s concern for the planet we live on. The Bible tells us that the earth belongs to God and everything in it. The Genesis account of creation calls upon us to be stewards of the creation. The gospel of John has this poignant word, “For God so loved the World.”

I’m puzzled by the political divide over care of our environment which we encounter today. Until recent years Christians were united in a concern for the earth and its creatures. We worked together for laws that limited pollution and cleaned up our lakes and rivers. I’m not sure when our collective wisdom changed, or how the environment got mixed into creation theologies as if one believed God created the heavens and the earth, one couldn’t believe that the earth was in danger.

I don’t know how this happened, but I yearn for that time of yesterday, when words like Global Warming and Climate Change were not political fireballs, but words that pushed us, regardless of political affiliation, into action. I yearn for the time when we so love God with our mind, heart, soul and strength, that we invest ourselves in all the ways we can to make a difference for the generations who follow us.

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About Shirley Hobson Duncanson

Rev. Shirley Duncanson is a United Methodist Pastor. She is a graduate of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Metro State University in Minnesota and Cleveland High School, in Cleveland MN where she grew up on a small fishing resort. Retired in 2013, she has served churches in Owatonna, Fairfax, Morton, Winona, Homer, Mounds View and most recently Hillcrest United Methodist Church in Bloomington, all in Minnesota. Shirley currently is a volunteer pastor at a nearby church. She is the mother of seven and grandmother of seven. Shirley enjoys photography, theological discussions, political discourse, book studies and reading.
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