The news this morning is bad.
Pretty much like most other mornings.
From NASA, we hear that last month was the hottest September on record. From Berlin, an international science panel warns that it may take “drastic measures” to avoid catastrophic climate change. From China, coal plants catapult smog to levels thirty times worse than the maximum safe level. From California, a new study finds that they simply can’t reach their aggressive emissions goals. And from Geneva, the WMO tells us that 2012 global carbon emissions hit a record high, breaking the records set in 2011, and in 2010 before that.
It’s bad all right. My goodness! I’ve got to do something! Seriously!
But a shipment of chestnut saplings has just arrived in the mail, and I’ve got planting to do. And twenty more raspberry canes are waiting for my attention as well. And the neighbor’s basement insulation is only half finished, with winter on the doorstep.
If you think of yourself as an earthkeeper, you’ve almost certainly been here. Today’s global threats to the Creation are so great. Maybe you just don’t have time for actual earthkeeping yourself. After all, what will planting a dozen chestnut trees – or taking a child for a bird-watching walk – really accomplish in the face of such menacing threats?
This is the world I live in, and – until recently – I hadn’t seen many examples of others who have found a workable way of living in both spheres: deeply moved by global-scale abuse of the Creation, but firmly committed to a sense of place and the renewal of those things under our stewardship.
But into that world steps Leah Kostamo, with her new book – Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling and Community. And finally, I’ve seen someone with a real story – told with insight and humor – about the struggle to live hopefully in a particular place, while caring for an imperiled planet.
At its core, Planted is a story about connections. Like never before in history, our age suffers from blindness to the complex interconnections among all things in the natural world. And like no other culture on Earth, ours has lost the sense of connectedness to other humans in community. The beauty of these two connections – to the natural world, and to each other – unfolds in Kostamo’s story against the backdrop of a third connection: the Creator’s connection to us and to all that he has made.
This is no lecture, no environmental tract preaching the wonders of an astoundingly beautiful world, and the horrific tale of what we are doing to it. It’s a story of ordinary people — among them Kostamo and her husband Markku – learning to restore life-giving connections, sometimes against impossible odds.
Leah and Markku are conservationists. It comes naturally for them to share the connections between the saltwater shrimp, which becomes part of the migrating salmon, which in turn sustains the hungry grizzly, whose droppings nourish the seedling, which becomes the majestic fir that forms the backdrop for the conservation center that they operate in coastal British Columbia. On page after page, we witness the connections among coyotes and chickens, cows and humans, developers and wetlands – stories told with insight in the voice of an eyewitness. If you’re like me, you’ll want to unplug yourself, get outside and dig for worms with a little child. Or learn to identify the calls of songbirds. And it won’t be because someone has persuaded you that you should. You’ve begun to see the connections you were created for, and you want to be a part of it. Continue reading