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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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When creation speaks to us

Can we listen to others as we discover responsibility?

As I read "Environmental urgency" (page 20), I asked my wife Ione, "What do you think I could write about creation that would be hopeful and helpful?"

Immediately she responded: "Creation speaks to us without words."

I should not have been surprised to hear this from a spouse raised on the prairies of western North Dakota, someone who asks for silence whenever we begin to drive west of the Missouri River. She is beholding shadows dancing on the buttes, badlands emerging, crops ripening and now the rapid changes in silence brought by the increased activity of expanding oil production.

What do you hear when you just listen to creation? Do you hear creation telling us of the wonder of God's grace?

When we listen to creation, we hear that God continues to create life. "O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. ... When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground" (Psalm 104:24, 30).

When we listen to creation and hear of the giftedness of life, something happens. Lutheran theologian Joseph Sittler described it this way: "The change in the spirit of our minds must come about by putting the grace of God behind the eyes with which we look at the world and into the hands with which we touch the world" (Gravity and Grace, page 20).

Creation speaks to us of beauty. One great loss is when we fail to have moments of awe in response to creation's beauty because the pace of our living and our preoccupation with what we need to do next gets in the way.

Creation speaks of simplicity and complexity. Often a child's delight reminds us of its simplicity — discovering a caterpillar, chasing a butterfly, splashing water, smelling a flower, crying over the death of a pet hamster. As we grow older, we become aware of creation's complexity, how life is woven into complex webs of interdependence. Choices we make each day have consequences for life forms now and in the future.


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