As the spring breeze surrounds me on this welcome sunny day, I think about spring, about Earth Day approaching, and the somewhat conflicting observation that we are currently living in Lent. Earth Day seems, at first glance, not to be that closely connected to Lent. Earth Day isn’t even an occasion that all of our congregations will observe whereas Lent includes many extra meaningful opportunities in our churches: Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday—and, of course, Easter.
The connection to Easter is easier to make with Earth Day. Easter is celebration, resurrection, and it often including signs of spring’s beauty as witness to God’s penetrating grace and goodness.
But this year, Earth Day doesn’t fall on Easter or in Easter-tide. It falls on Good Friday. Instead of being a witness to the resurrection, Earth Day is a part of the time of preparation, of the lengthening of days, of reflecting on our relationship with the Holy One.
A few weeks ago we were marked with ashes and told “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Can Ash Wednesday, in some way, prepare us for Earth Day as well as Lent? Being told we are dust is a way to help us remember our frailty and mortality. Yet it also reminds me that I am made from the good Earth, connected to it in ways that I often forget or deny. To be reminded that I have come from dust and will return to dust is somehow deeply good news. Yes, yes! We are earth, we are creature, we are of the very substance that God called good! At the end of my life’s journey, there is assurance that I will be dust, going back home to the One who fashioned me.
As we travel further into Lent and take strides towards Earth Day, I believe that we can revel in welcome news that we are dust. We are a part of the growing, living Creation that God loves. We are a part of this Earth; but, we are not the only part. God is moving, living, and breathing beauty into us and also into all the world, molding and shaping who we are and who we are becoming. As dust, we find our place in relation to God and the rest of the Earth. We breathe in the blessing that we are not as important as we think—even as we are empowered to action and faithful living.
When we gather in our congregations on Good Friday, we reflect on the love of God that understands suffering, pain, and death. The Christ who loves us so much is also the Christ who knows the crucified parts of the planet. The One who walks with us and for us, intimately experiencing pain, suffering, betrayal and death will not shy away from the painful realities in the earth, the climate, in our waterways or lands.
How does Good Friday evoke the humility, humanity, and humus (soil) in a way that can help us to understand our connection to God’s Creation? How will your congregation mark Earth Day as an appropriate part of a Lenten journey?
Remembering that we are dust, let us prepare to celebrate that we are earthy, earthly creatures. May we realize the identity that this connection gives us; it links us kin to one another—in the pews, around the globe, and to all inhabitants of this Earth, God’s good creation, our home.