Not everyone can be Sam Gamgee, the little gardener who planted trees all over the shire after saving the world, in The Lord of the Rings. But in this season, gardening and greening our world appeals to all of us. At the same time, we grieve for the plant and animal species now missing from our planet, and we seek ways to combat pollution and climate change. For us to lie down in green pastures and walk beside still waters, we must allow the pastures to be green, and the waters to be clean.
On Sunday, April 23, at 3 p.m., “Grieving and Growing—An Earth Day Interfaith Service” will be held at the United Lutheran Seminary chapel in Gettysburg. All in our community are invited, because all are affected. As Klaus Topfer of the UN Environmental Programme said, “We have entered a new age. An age where all of us will have to sign a new compact with our environment…and enter into the larger community of all living beings. A new sense of our communion with planet Earth must enter our minds.”
Studying today’s environment can cause anxiety. But when we let that feeling keep us from acting to help, we miss out on the hope we also find in learning about the many things we can do. There are more choices for addressing the environment than the two extremes of denial, or despair. Reading informative books with the Green Gettysburg Book Club over the past three years has been uplifting for me, not just concerning. On April 23, join in reflecting together, in grieving our losses through extinctions, pollution and climate disruption, in singing and praying. Then join in sharing declarations from faith traditions and considering ways to help, as individuals, as Pennsylvanians, and as Americans.
Hope and action have been continually linked in the environmental studies of our group over the past several years. As well as reading, we learn from members who are master gardeners, Watershed Alliance of Adams County members, teachers and members of other local environmental groups and businesses. Some in the club have attended meetings of the larger South Mountain Partnership. The partnership began in 2006 as a collaboration between the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. But it has grown into an alliance of citizens, businesses, nonprofits, schools and government agencies, all working to “envision and secure a sustainable future for the South Mountain landscape.” Forty-seven groups were involved at a recent count. All over the country, and all over the world, we are working together to find solutions to our common concerns, for our common home.
In fact, studies now show that those concerned about the environment are in the majority in the U.S. Will Lane, host of the book club, points out that we need to start acting like the majority, sharing concerns and ways to help. The Green Gettysburg Book Club has learned that we are only one part of “a cultural shift in the way we think about our relationship with the natural world, helping to move from a model of domination and exploitation to a recognition of our interdependence with the natural systems that sustain us.” All are welcome to attend “Grieving and Growing” at 3 p.m. on April 23 at the Seminary chapel.
Judy Young is a retired United Methodist pastor and a member of the Green Gettysburg Book Club.
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