I went canoeing yesterday on a small lake in Arkansas. While I was on the lake, I noticed a tree trunk. There was nothing very special about the tree trunk (the rest of the tree was attached, but the limbs and leaves were lost in the sprawl of other trees). It was stunning. Simply stunning. The gray bark, the slightly sinuous turn of the tree. Just a tree.
I am fortunate to be alive. To simply be alive. I am doubly blessed for being born in this place and time where I have the time and ability to spend a morning in a canoe on a lake. Many in our world struggle each day to find enough food, enough water to live. Girls trying to get an education are poisoned or have acid thrown in their faces. Mothers watch helplessly as their children die of malnutrition, of diarrhea. Girls going for water are raped. I don't face any of that, and I have the time and means to just sit in a canoe and enjoy God's world.
I was listening to Speaking of Faith. Ellen Davis was speaking of the centrality of land in the Hebrew Bible. We do not respect the land or farmers. We have let greed overwhelm all. Food is grown by corporations who do not care for the land. Coal is mined by corporations who do not care for the beauty of the mountaintop nor the sacredness of the lives of their workers. Oil is produced by corporations who care not for the fish or the coral reefs or their own workers.
It is not the corporations. They are run by people who satisfy the desires of each of us for cheaper goods: cheap food, cheap oil so that we can drive big, expensive cars and sit in air conditioned comfort in the heat and humidity of summer.
I wish the world were different. I'm not sure I wish it enough to change. (Shall I set my airconditioner up a couple of degrees? Shall I walk to the store, half a mile away instead of driving? Shall I send a contribution to a charity in Pakistan to educate women or in Dafur to save women? Shall I stay home next Saturday instead of using a tank of gas to drive to a lake in Arkansas? Shall I make more drastic changes? Not fly half way across the world?)