April Leese is a resident of the Community of Living Traditions in Stony Point, New York. A recent seminary graduate, she has had a lifelong connection to the outdoors, and to environmental stewardship.
Why would I want to attend an interreligious teach-in focused on earth, faith and peace? Why would I care about climate change and how it connects to other issues? I think that I have been so surrounded my entire life by creation and the love of it that the question of why would I stand for climate change almost has no meaning to me. Why would I? Why would I not? I exist in the midst of all of this; I am a part of all of this.
I grew up on a farm, running around outside. My family’s idea of vacation was to go camping and hiking, more time outside. We recycled back when you had to drive stuff over the mountain to drop it off (instead of just into town like we do now). We saved water because we were pumping it from the ground and could judge by the stream running past our house whether that was from an abundance of water or a scarcity. We grew a lot of our own food because it was so much better that way. As a result of this early connection to the rest of creation, I have never felt disconnected from natural systems, even when I was living in cities and they were not immediately apparent to me.
I know not everyone gets the privilege of growing up in the country. Indeed, it would be not only impossible but bad for the land for everyone to grow up this way. Nevertheless, we are all as connected to the land, creation, natural systems as I am. Whether we see them or not, we are part of ecosystems, watersheds, and other cycles.
As a Christian and a seminary graduate, I have learned a lot about how theology can influence how we live our daily lives. There are definitely both things that build up and things that can destroy in Christian theology. Do we see the body and soul as separate and the soul as greater? If we do, we probably devalue “this world” in favor of “the next.” While this may not always be a bad thing, if it leads us to not care about the people around us or the earth that nurtures us, if we are blinded by a hope of things to come, we may not balance this with a genuine caring for what is now. Do we believe in an incarnate God? If we do, we should believe that God cared for this world so much that God chose to come into it. Our views on incarnation, souls, Sabbath, and salvation are not separate issues from our worldview but wrapped right up with it.
I believe in an incarnate God, one who chose to come and dwell among us. This God loves the world so much. So much that, as a child of God, I must love it to and in loving it, connect to it and care for it.
This is one of the reasons I’m looking forward to attending the teach-in. I love to learn more and to share my passion for creation and justice. I hope to be able to come up with some ideas of how to share what’s happening in this movement with the multifaith community I live and work with, the church I worship in, and the people I am surrounded by.