Autumn isn’t typically the time of year to be thinking about planting seeds. It’s the time of harvest, the time of storing up and shoring up. But in the wake of the Climate March and Strike, we found ourselves today wondering what seeds we can plant, among ourselves and others, to inspire change and movement around the coming chaos, disaster, and mass death that unchecked climate change will surely bring.
And so I found myself wondering if things might have been different if the environmental movement had had a different message all along. When I was growing up, and maybe even as recently as a few years ago, I received the message of the environmental movement as a message about the Earth: protect the Earth, keep it clean. I dutifully recycled and took public transit and ate no, or at least less, meat. But Greta Thunberg and her young allies in climate activism put it bluntly: The future for young people looks fragile, even bleak, indeed, and even more fragile and bleak for the young people of the developing world. The Earth will survive us if necessary. But we will not survive an Earth that is rapidly warming, flooding, storming, and burning, much of it aggravated (even if all of not directly caused) by human activity. Climate change deniers may scoff at the idea of protecting the spotted owl from extinction until they realize, likely too late, how the spotted owl (or any other vulnerable species) is also a canary in a coal mine.
So as the world darkens with the approach of fall, we think about seeds. The Ancient Testimony today was, appropriately enough, the Parable of the Sower. Many Christians are often guilty of a more androcentric view of creation than folks of other faiths, referring to the creation stories of the book of Genesis to support a view that Earth was made to serve humanity. But this view has always seemed unlikely to me. Whether it’s Jesus’s own parables and testimony speaking to God’s love of the Earth and all its creatures, the natural metaphors in them reflecting God’s tenderness towards life beyond human life, or the many examples from history and literature in which nature has the final say, humans are only part of the story of creation.
What seeds are we planting, and on which soil? Rachel asked for folks to join them in caring for the trees along Thompson Street and lamented the loss of our compost bins while reminding us that they’d be available to help us sort our trash into bags until replacement bins could be found. Thomas asked for volunteers for the New Sanctuary Coalition legal clinic. Alan lifted up Micah and Lyla and everyone else who supported Judson’s presence at the march. They may only be seeds, and we may not have full control over the path or the thorns or the soil. But even Jesus sowed, and hoped.