Generally, a holiday has to be at least 2,000 years old for me to care about it. I have made an exception for Thanksgiving, Independence Day and Memorial Day, but that’s about it. I respect secretaries (don’t we call them assistants now?), but I just can’t bring myself to elevate Secretaries Day into the pantheon of sacred time.
But I also make an exception for yesterday’s Earth Day.
There are two main reasons I love Earth Day. The first is that I really love the Earth as a creation of God. Read Psalm 19 and you will get what I mean:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
There are traces of God’s presence in our sacred texts but there are deep footprints of God’s presence in the natural world. When I teach where God lives to kids I usually say, “God lives everywhere in nature and everywhere in us where we let God in.” I love the Earth as God’s revealed creation so much I try to sneak the phrase “here on planet Earth” into a lot of my columns even when it does not fit.
The second reason I love Earth Day is that being born in Milwauke, I love all things Wisconsin, and the original Earth Day was created by the beloved late senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, back in 1970.
I am not a fan of the way that Earth Day has become politicized. I believe that people who love the Earth can come from all political parties, ideologies, faiths and no faiths. For the same reasons why no ideology or political movement ought to have a monopoly on patriotism, no environmental movement ought to have a monopoly on Earth loving. Earth Day is about the Earth not the politics of the Earth. Of course politics are implicated in caring for the Earth, but they aren’t one political flavor.
So, in honor of Earth Day I reprint one of my favorite children’s Bible interpretations from my first book, “Does God Have A Big Toe?”
Before there was anything, there was God, a few angels, and a huge swirling glob of rocks and water with no place to go. The angels asked God, “Why don’t you clean up this mess?”
So God collected rocks from the huge swirling glob and put them together in clumps and said, “Some of these clumps of rocks will be planets, and some will be stars, and some of these rocks will be . . . just rocks.”
Then God collected water from the huge swirling glob and put it together in pools of water and said, “Some of these pools of water will be oceans, and some will be clouds, and some of this water will be . . . just water.”
Then the angels said, “Well, God, it’s neater now, but is it finished?” And God answered:
On some of the rocks God placed growing things, and creeping things, and things that only God knows what they are, and when God had done all this, the angels asked God, “Is the world finished now?” And God answered:
God made a man and a woman from some of the water and dust and said to them, “I’m tired now. Please finish up the world for me, really it’s almost done.” But the man and the woman said, “We can’t finish the world alone! You have the plans and we are too little.”
“You are big enough,” God answered them. “But I agree to this. If you keep trying to finish the world, I will be your partner.”
The man and the woman asked, “What’s a partner?” and God answered, “A partner is someone you work with on a big thing that neither of you can do alone. If you have a partner, it means that you can never give up, because your partner is depending on you. On the days you think I am not doing enough and on the days I think you are not doing enough, even on those days we are still partners and we must not stop trying to finish the world. That’s the deal.” And they all agreed to that deal.
Then the angels asked God, “Is the world finished yet?” and God answered, “I don’t know. Go ask my partners.”