Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An Extra Mile

My balcony feels like a steamy rainforest after the “drought-busting” rain. Our downstairs neighbors had strongly requested that I put “liners” under my pots because when I watered, dirt drained on their patio carpet. I wondered, “What will they do when it rains?” Whatever might have dripped really wasn’t that big a deal, I knew, since ninety-five percent of my pots had “liners.” The neighbors were simply looking for a problem.

Nevertheless, I truly want to be a good neighbor (and I’d love to have some too!) so we invested in another “liner” to hold the remaining large pot over the edge of their carpet. Remembering Jesus’ teaching, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles,” (Matthew 5:41) we bought “liners’ for two pots in an area not mentioned. While I don’t like anyone “messing with” my garden, it’s right to discipline and “subdue” it as God told Adam and Eve to do. I want to live Jesus’ teachings in every area of life and I’m glad to have an opportunity to follow Jesus in serving my neighbors.

And now we’ve had ten to twelve inches of rain in forty-eight hours with more to come, the “liners” brimming over several times. I wondered what the neighbors would do when it rained… Will they cuss God, too?

Drought Buster

Drought has drained our area for many seasons and in a city that very nearly worships trees, that spells trouble. Though most things stayed green we were given dire predictions of running completely out of drinking water by a certain time. Would everyone have to move away and the city die? Penalties were charged for watering lawns perhaps showers were next. “Conserve,” the utility officials threatened, “or we’ll raise your rates!” We conserved. “Because you conserved, we’re raising your rates!” (They could no longer make enough money.)

I worried for a time but soon remembered to pray. The Bible says that Elijah was an ordinary man like us (!) but he prayed for the rain to stop and then to begin again, indicating that the average Christian could pray the same (and more!) (James 5:16b,17)

God answered my prayer and those of many others. The rain had definitely picked up but in the eyes of the forecasters, it was never enough. Somehow they thought that all the deficit of the past year had to be made up this year. The land and the lakes simply can’t contain that much. Some of the lakes had already regained their fill. Yet, forecasters longed for a tropical system to “bring us much-needed rain.”

Be careful what you wish for! Apparently tropical storm “Fay” has made her soggy way to us, disgorging (in my area) from ten to twelve inches in forty-eight hours! Contrasted with some areas it doesn’t seem like a lot but for us it’s tremendous! This morning boats evacuated “hundreds” of residents to a nearby high school while major roads were closed around submerged cars. More rain is expected this afternoon. It will eventually run off or be absorbed but not until many homes and cars are ruined (much worse in other states!)

I’m not sure what to conclude from this situation other than it’s not worth getting distraught over dire predictions—the weather does change and change again, especially with prayer. I absolutely believe in conserving water and have long watched the drops and gallons but I realize that officials in their “long range predictions” don’t truly consider all the variables and results of their edicts. And I have to wonder if wishing for “a tropical system to bring much-needed rain” isn’t greedy?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Paper or Plastic?

“Paper of plastic?” Store clerks used to always ask. When my husband and I would firmly respond, “Paper,” they reluctantly dug the paper bags from beneath the counter. Why would we want flimsy plastic bags that burst, crashing bottles to the pavement (yes, it happened to us) or rolling around in the car trunk, spilling their contents into hidden places? Well, the media reports said, “Choose plastic to save the trees.” Okay, I have always had a fondness for trees, so we gave in to billows of hard-to-carry and corral, flimsy plastic bags, dutifully stuffing them in recycling bin at the end of each week.

Now that the price of gas is so high and plastic bags, being a petroleum product, are now deemed environmentally unfriendly and trees are once again fair game. Even the local health food store has switched to paper. However, nearly every food store will happily sell you thin, reusable bags that feel like a cross between paper and fabric. (Of course,they boast the store's logo.) This isn’t a new idea, I still have my Mother Earth News “Tree Saver” bag from the late 70’s.

I’ve always liked cloth bags and I applaud the trend. However, the graphically beautiful “new fiber” bag we bought from an upscale health food store is beginning to wear through the bottom after only light use. Yet my canvas bags have held up like champions through decades of hard labor and can be revived in the laundry. While the trend to switch to reusable bags in commendable, I have to wonder if it’s simply benefiting the industry instead of the environment. Where will the bottomless “new fiber” bags go? Paper and plastic can be recycled but what about these? Give me canvas! But, those cost more, you might say. Actually, I’ve collected quite a few “free” ones over the years and a large import store recently had a giveaway. Plain ones are available for a small cost at craft stores.

Now that it’s become popular to favor the environment, let’s just be sure that our impulses to do something—anything, don’t get us into a new problem.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Created by Him and For Him

“consider that as one of its most important purposes, stewardship of creation should sustain nature’s worshipping capacity. The more I reflect on the Scriptures and the more I sense how God thrills to the adoration He receives from all that He has created, the more I realize that He has given us the awesome responsibility of caring for His creation so that it can go on praising Him until the end of time.”
Tony Campolo
How to Rescue the Earth Without Worshipping Nature

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Col 1:15-17

I’m sure you’ve noticed how precise you have to be when you type an internet password or address—everything can be exactly right but put a period in the wrong place and you come up with a white page, nothing. God’s creation is far more exacting and intricate than all the puzzle pieces of computers and the Internet. Even the “simplest” bacteria contain 100,000 million atoms—far more complex than anything humans have ever made. One human cell contains more information than a thirty-volume set of encyclopedias--an intricate artistry far beyond writing “the Lord’s Prayer” on a grain of rice!

My husband has often said to me, “Your art is not you.” That’s true, it’s not. But it’s my expression of who I am and how I see things so I feel undermined if my paintings are treated roughly. Jesus whom we Christians say we value and worship above all others, made these wonders of the heavens and earth. While he is separate from his creation, he made it as an expression of who he is and how he sees things. How can we say we love and serve him yet treat his intricate and wondrous art roughly?

(Thanks to Rick Watkins for the scientific information)