“Where did this thing come from?” Michael Pollan asked in his book Second Nature after he picked a 30-pound squash from his garden. There was no hole, after all, left behind in the garden that suggested the plant had converted 30 pounds of soil into fruit. Nor do my apple trees sink into the ground because they have given away 200 pounds of apples and are left perched on the edge of a crater. Pollan concluded, “That they’re not [leaving holes], it seems to me, should be counted something of a miracle. […] It is, in other words a gift.”
ironically though pumpkins are very much on many peoples’ minds at this season, they are usually seen as a throw away item. The edible parts – the seeds and pulp are often cut out and thrown away so that we can make Jack O Lanterns and scary decorations for our front yards and doorsteps. That alone I find hard because pumpkin soup is one of my favourites. But as well as that it reflects for me the throw away society in which we live and how much we often distain God’s gifts and provision.
The most powerful message conveyed to us by the harvest is that God’s creation is an amazing and miraculous example of sustainability, out of which our Creator is constantly gifting us with all that we need for life.
What a contrast to the way that we tend to operate! For example, in his book Green Revolution, Ben Lowe talks about the devastation caused by coal mining in the Appalachian states. Evidently three million pounds of explosives are used every day in West Virginia alone to blow off the tops of mountains to access coal for our electricity – something that has been on many of our minds this last week as we have watched the rescue of Chilean miners. As you can imagine, mining really does leave some big craters both on top of and underneath the earth. It destroys not just the environment, but also the health of the people who live there.
Once we recognize that God is the initiator of sustainability, perhaps we too can become creative inventors of sustainable systems. Solar power and wind farms, which draw from God’s gifts of wind and sun, are both viable ways to produce electricity without leaving holes in the ground. If we observe the world around us as a gift from God, we start to see that hidden in many aspects of God’s creation are lessons for sustainability.