In the beginning
Sister Joyce Lehman • President, Sisters of the Precious Blood
“In the beginning…” Most of us recognize this famous opening line from the book of Genesis. The creation story gives us a glimpse into the mind of God when creating the world and all that is in it as imagined by the early Jewish people. As Christians, we believe that these words are not only the words of human beings attempting to record history, but also inspired by God so that we might see our place in the grand order of things.
We know that God delighted in diversity, creating the creatures of the deep, of the lakes and of rivers, birds to fly in the sky and sing their unique songs, all kinds of animals to roam the land, and the biblically unnamed but nonetheless persistent creepy crawlies from spiders to mosquitoes to honey bees. When finished creating this good fertile earth and these wondrous beings, God entrusted it all to human beings. The Genesis speaks of subduing and having dominion over the earth. This does not mean, however, to plunder and abuse, but rather to protect, care for and be good stewards of. By the power and ingenuity of the human intellect we can control flooding by building dams, harness energy for the good of all, increase the yield of our harvests through good farming techniques, and generally ensure that all have the means for a healthy and whole life.
Today we see our responsibility of stewardship of the planet being tested as the air we breathe and the water that sustains us become polluted and the earth is stripped of its fertility from overuse or misuse. We can recognize the peril this puts us in, and we can also work to imagine and plan ways to move us back from the edge. But it takes more than imagination, it also takes commitment and action. As with so many of the great global problems, we can become paralyzed and helpless if we think we must address them all or all at once.
Where to start? Like charity, change begins at home. Small acts done locally and consistently make a difference. An early environmental slogan, “reduce, reuse, recycle,” gives us a plan of action as well as something to ponder. We can reduce just about everything we use on a daily basis, from water and electricity to the food we waste to the number of trips we take using fossil fuels. Reusing things such as plastic bags and containers, aluminum pie tins and Styrofoam dishes, and old sheets or towels, seems to have gone out of style. These are all things that can be reused or repurposed after their first incarnation, whether by the original user or by another person or organization. Schools especially like items that can be used creatively in classes: anything from a cardboard tube from paper towels to fabric scraps.
Recycling has become much more prevalent and practiced. In the recent past, we had to separate the different kinds of recyclables from each other and place them in the proper bins, which for some was annoying or burdensome. Now many recycling companies allow most all recyclables to be put together and collected at the same time. Landfills everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief as they are growing much more slowly because of recycling. Now if we could just figure out what to do with the plastic “puddle” the size of Connecticut that is floating in the middle of the Pacific!
God’s good creation is ours to enjoy, to use and most of all to care for. This issue of Sharing & Caring gives some idea of what the Sisters of the Precious Blood, individually and corporately, are doing to help respect, restore and rebuild the integrity of God’s good creation.