I once got lost in the forest along Chuckanut Ridge, somewhere north of Fragrance Lake. I had been hiking there enough times before to think that I knew the terrain and could go off trail. But, really, it had been a bad week. I was in a foul mood. I knew better than to wander off trail in those woods, especially in the evening. There’s nothing quite like the sun’s elongating rays dimming the forest floor to spur on fervent prayer when wandering in the woods, lost. And so I prayed, “the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not stay lost. He leads me to the right path…where my truck is parked” (or something along those lines).
Getting lost was part of my childhood, and it instilled habits of observation. These days, as a Christian theologian concerned with all of creation, I see what has become a toxic climate in our society and our ecosystems—and many blame Christian tradition for both. The culture in which we live, breathe, and move seems to have an obsession with throwing everything away, from objects to food to whole human persons. If not an obsession, we certainly seem to lack the vision and creativity (and desire) to embrace alternative ways of doing and being in, with, among our environs. With these concerns and observations in mind, here you will find reflections on how we might see the world around us differently, beginning with the ground beneath our feet, and the un/housed neighbor across the street.
As a preacher I am compelled, ultimately, to proclaim good news. Yet deciphering what is the good news is a perpetual challenge. Wrestling with the lectionary readings for any given Sunday becomes a spiritual practice, and one that keeps my work rooted in scripture even as I look to the created world for insights and deeper knowledge of God. Word and Wisdom are both present through the book of nature and the book of the Bible.
Similarly, when I teach in small group settings on the baptismal journey—walking out the Christian faith as baptized persons—I do so through the lens of this place, these waters, that form not only the backdrop of our existence but also inform the ways we engage with the rest of creation (consciously or otherwise). Taking a bioregional approach to the Christian life draws together relationships between the material and the spiritual in new and meaningful ways.
The goal of my work is to encourage congregations and persons of faith to become people who seek justice for the rest of creation conjointly with seeking justice for our neighbors and communities. And not only because we are called to care for creation, but because our very existence, our own flourishing is deeply imbricated with the flourishing of all.
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