You may or may not know that I am passionate about regenerative agriculture. I grew up on a farm, and as the saying goes you can take the girl off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl. But, this passion doesn’t just come from my experience growing up on a farm, it is also deeply rooted in my faith. Our first calling as human beings is to care for the earth and the creatures that God created. In Genesis 2 God creates the human creature from the dust of the earth, the adam from the adamah. God put the human creature in the garden to till it and to keep it. The Hebrew word translated “to till” can also be translated “to serve.” The human creature’s first task of service is to the earth, to the soil, to the very dust it was created from. To till it and keep it, to preserve it and watch over it. Well my friends, we have not done a great job living up to our task of tilling and preserving the Earth. As we have industrialized, our systems of production have taken on a use and abuse attitude. Our relationship with creation, with nature, with the plants and animals around us has become one of dominion and control. How can we work to restore right relationship with creation?
I recently read the book “Coming Home to Earth,” by Mark Brocker, which was recommended to me by a deaconess friend. In his book Brocker talks about how it is our loss of love for the Earth and acts of neglect toward the whole Earth community that has brought us to where we are. We need to return to a love for Earth and all it creatures and rediscover community with creation. Waking up to our kinship with the created world. That we are all created parts of the kin-dom of God. Seeing the plants and animals around us as our neighbors and treating them as such. One of the points Brocker makes over and over throughout the book is that we need to extend our view of Gods commandment to love. The greatest two commandments are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as our self. Brocker argues that love of Earth/creation should be added to that group. What would it be like to treat the earth and all its inhabitants, human and non-human, with love?
One on the many things that I underlined in the book was a section where he talked about agriculture. He mentions that “agriculture” is not “agribusiness” and the industrial production of food, “agriculture” means “cultivation of land.” Brocker says, “To engage in agriculture entails living on the land, caring for the soil, collaborating with neighboring farmers, and giving thanks for the fruits of the land. The tendency of agribusiness is to exploit the land until it wears out.”
This is what we have done. We have become disconnected from our call to care for the soil to tend it and preserve it. We have let our focus become production without a care for what happens to the land and its inhabitants because of it.
So how do we move toward love of the Earth, toward loving our neighbors, including those that are plants and animals? It starts with recognizing a personal connection to the environment, to a place. We care more about things we have a personal connection to, so to care for the Earth we need to have a personal connection with it. When we have a connection to even just a specific piece of creation we can then connect to the bigger picture.
There is much more that could be said about the environment and our role as people of faith, but hopefully this helps to start you thinking. How can we work to love the Earth and all of its community?