A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Respecting God’s Handiwork

Posted on: April 22, 2013

After a few days of unpredictable weather ranging from sun to rain to snow and back again, my cat and I enjoyed watching some birds from my bedroom window this morning.

Of course, my cat noticed only the ones swooping down into the yard, but I spotted many little birds scratching in my yard and hopping through the fence, along with the leaves emerging from the bulbs in my garden. It’s a beautiful day to celebrate Earth Day.

As David wrote, creation itself speaks volumes about God:

The heavens are telling the glory of God;

and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

There is no speech, nor are there words;

their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

(Psalm 19:1,3-4, Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition)

Bible passages like Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 104 also remind us of God’s role as Creator. So do hymns like “Morning Has Broken,” “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful” that praise God for the gift of creation in all its diversity.

We have a duty to care for our world and use its resources responsibly, as s. 2415 of the Catechism reminds us:

Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbour, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.

I think we appreciate the wonder of creation. People never cease to marvel at photographs and video footage of animals in the wild, mountains, waterfalls, and distant stars. The problem lies with our stewardship of nature. Despite the threat of global warming, habitat destruction and species loss, we don’t seem to worry enough about what kind of world we’re leaving for the next generation.

I’m still surprised at the number of people who put out no blue or black box on recycling day, admit they don’t use their green bins because these can get smelly, or throw out pop cans rather than look for a place to recycle them. But these are some of the easiest things we can do to help the environment.

Here are a few more simple things:

  • Aim for a litterless lunch. Use insulated containers and lunch bags and reusable water bottles and cutlery to pack your kids’ lunches—or yours, if you eat lunch at work. Encourage your kids to bring home empty juice boxes or cans to recycle and uneaten food to compost. As a bonus, you can find out what your kids are actually eating.
  • Make it easy for your family to recycle and compost. Have compost bins in your kitchen and bathrooms and recycling bins in the kitchen, bedrooms and office—and encourage everyone to use them.
  • Let someone else do the driving. Use public transit to get to work or head downtown to shop, visit a museum or take in festival events. You won’t have to hunt for parking or struggle through rush-hour traffic, and you might be able to claim your work-related transit costs on your income taxes.
  • Watch for opportunities to recycle. Take advantage of the great recycling programs available through your municipality and at electronics and business supply stores. It’s not just cell phones and laptops anymore—you can recycle printer cartridges and even highlighters at some stores.
  • Reduce your paper and plastic use. Save paper with writing or printing on only one side for jotting down grocery lists or phone messages, invest in some reusable shopping bags, or send electronic gift cards since some plastic cards can’t be reloaded.
  • Think globally. When you’re shopping, watch for items that use recycled or upcycled materials as well as organic and fair trade items that help people earn a living wage.
  • Put your spring cleaning to good use. Take items in good condition to consignment stores, clothing banks or charity shops. Or have a yard sale and donate part or all of your proceeds to a charity that touches your heart.

I pray that we would all find even some small steps we can take to care for this world God has given us.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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