You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it. – Psalm 65:9 (NIV)
With a deep sigh, I watched as he walked away, having left a beautiful urn of what was described as a hearty bush – “You really can’t kill it, trust me” – and some resilient flowers in the perfect spot. “Just so long as you check it every day and give it water if the soil is dry. Especially in the hotter months.”
I sighed because I hate killing things. But plants, evidence of God’s wondrous Creation, really should tremble in my presence. I appreciate them, but I cannot care for them reliably. What with work and meetings and other things, the problem of the plant is that, unlike, say, my dog, it will not bark to remind me to fill her bowl or stand at the door to prompt a walk.
Plants sit silently in their majesty requiring attention without demand until, sometimes, it may seem too late.
Just last night I noticed that the bush in the urn, the one I couldn’t kill, looked forlorn. Only two days earlier I’d watered it, marveling at how well it thrived. Now, after a day with an unforgiving heat index, the leaves seemed … crispened.
It would be a mistake to assume that the plants in my care are God’s to water. I have a responsibility. God has given me the “streams full of water.” My job is to tap into the source for the sake of that which is depending on me.
There are people of faith in this world claiming that God will take care of Creation without human participation. That the earth will be just fine, and our responsibility is only to remember this. That our care of Creation requires no hose, no attention, just an incantation and a trust that God will do more than God promised.
That approach is not faith, it is hubris. God’s care was never meant to inspire carelessness in us.
Forgive us, O God, for our crisping of your planet. As our world turns, may we turn towards more faithful care of all that you’ve entrusted to us. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.