I have described myself as a committed environmentalist for more than 20 years. And, while that has not changed, increasingly, I would describe myself more as a committed steward.
What’s the difference? It is more a change of perspective rather than priority. I still care about air quality and public health, but as a steward, I now also tie that feeling to the compassion I feel for my Brothers and Sisters. I still care about our rivers, streams and oceans. However, as a steward, I recognize that God created the heavens, and the Earth, and these water bodies too. Protecting them—and all parts of His creation—is a way to show gratitude to Him. As for ecosystems, all things in them have spirits, God cares for them, and will make sure that all of these will be resurrected. I have long thought of aspects of environmental policy as presenting some hard decisions. As a steward, I recognize that the reason that they are sometimes hard is because some trade offs involve vitally important (indeed sacred) things: His creation and His children (both those on Earth and those yet to be born). As an environmentalist, I often felt frustrated. As a steward, I have much more hope, if not faith, that we can do our part and show greater care for God’s creation.
I recently ran across the following line from Thoreau: “The earth I tread on is not a dead, inert mass. It is a body, has a spirit, is organic, and fluid to the influence of its spirit, and to whatever particle of that spirit is in me.” This really resonated with me. I have long recognized that I could feel the spirit when in nature. In fact, it never struck me odd that Joseph had a prayer answered in the woods or that Moses climbed a mountain to talk to God. In nature I have often found energy, peace, or renewal. For a long time, I did not talk to many about this. In fact, I remember feeling a bit embarrassed a while back telling a group of Mormon friends that it was in the outdoors that I felt closest to God, not in church. As a steward, the presence of God’s spirit in the outdoors is to be expected: it was fathomed in His mind, created to His standard, designed to play an important role in His Plan of Salvation, and will ultimately be renewed and perfected.
These sorts of thoughts not only make me want to protect our landscapes and clean up our cities, but also they make me want to be a better person. They make me want to worship our Creator more earnestly. They make me want to find ways to better care for the Creation and for all of God’s children. It is a way to show Him that I love Him, and that I am grateful for what He has given me.
I have found LDS Earth Stewardship a useful mechanism to allow these thoughts take hold, to find people of my faith with similar values, and to take action. While the organization is still far from where it needs to be, it has made important strides due to the hard work of a few. Here is the thing though, there are more than 15 million Mormons in the world and nearly 30,000 congregations. Most of those congregations have some members who would identify strongly with the notion of Earth Stewardship. We need to find and provide opportunities for the Church’s green sheep. This is a job that needs more hands and more hearts.
If you are willing to commit some time to help, we will put you to work. We need volunteers to help us amass our stewardship gospel library, to make videos, take photos, and create content that we can share with our online community, to help us identify and reach out the the Church’s green sheep, to organize local events like hikes and service projects, to organize local chapters or student groups, or to create online resources designed to help those who feel the tug of Earth stewardship to lessen their impact on the planet. If you are willing to do any of these tasks (or have other ideas that you are willing to pursue to help the organization), please click here, and let’s see where we can take this.
Regardless, here is my prayer. May God bless you and yours. May He watch over your home and grant us the energy to help us watch over the home that he made for each and everyone of us. May we continue to feel the Savior’s love in all the world around us.
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