“Then the LORD formed man of the dust of from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breathe of life; and man became a living soul.” [Genesis  2:7]

Earth Day for many of us is a time to renew afresh our care for the world GOD has placed us in. But in an age where we have encased ourselves in drywall, cyberspace, pavement and steel, can we really be wise and humble caretakers of that which we live ‘on top of’. If we view the earth as a massive pool of natural resources to be used are we really able to steward that in which we take no direct part? Have we forgotten our vital, Adamic, link to the ground from which GOD brought us forth?

Have we forgotten our place in GOD's creation? (montage: J Fowler)

“…the archetypal man was called Adam deriving his origin from adamah, the airable earth, the agricultural soil that gives birth to life.” [p.21, Farming As A Spiritual Discipline by Ragan Sutterfield]

We need to restore to our understanding the kinship, in a sense, that we share with all of GOD’s good creation and the unique link we have with the world GOD has placed us in. We are not one with the earth but our roots go deep in this created order and our eternal destiny is wrapped up in the same.

The trouble we have today in our aging industrial era is that we have forgotten that we are created. We spend so much time in man-made environments I think we  unwittingly believe that through our technologies we can extend ourselves into a seemingly immortal realm of control and superiority above both the created order and sadly, the Creator Himself. We are false gods in our self-made environs.

Where can this lead us, even as we turn our attention again to GOD’s groaning creation? Is the earth something to be manipulated , carved up, optimized, used and controlled? Is it only to be paved, mowed, sprayed and subdued? We turn our machine-oriented minds to complex living eco-systems (I’m not talking Gaia, I’m talking a web of relationships between a myriad of living creatures and things). We insist that we can ‘geo-engineer‘, we can farm with chemical force, a world that is fundamentally beyond our need for control. Eventually GOD’s wild weed breaks up through the cracked pavement of our crowded city streets and the weather will do what it will.

But where is the hope in all this? We must again go back to the source. GOD made Adam from adamah and we must  remember that we are both people of GOD’s breathe and people of the earth. We are called to cultivate, steward and renew. In an age of environmental devastation we must acknowledge that our ongoing rejection of GOD’s order in favor of our own rebellious designs leads to increasing degrees of destruction. We must again take our humble seat at GOD’s feast of soil and stars knowing that we have  privilege but we also have immense responsibility. And let us not forget our neglected joy. We were not given this world as a burden or something to escape- but it is to be enjoyed because it is the poetry of GOD and our glorious home. Yes some day it will all be made new in GOD’s resurrection (the Age to Come) but now is not the time to forsake our humble task as stewards. People of earth remember again your place. We too are part of this created order.

J. Fowler

J. Fowler is the website editor and co-founder, along with his wife Pamela, of the Sustainable Traditions project. The Fowlers live with their seven children on a farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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