by Lisa DeRosa
My husband and I are taking a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana this summer. It will be our first visit to this breathtaking land. We plan to hike and I cannot wait to discover the birds and other creatures that we will encounter on the trail. Of course, knowing that I will get to experience the breeze, the scents, the birdsongs, and the feeling of the earth under my boots is intoxicating, but I am truly looking forward to being away from the noise. The city, planes, traffic, construction… just man-made noise. Looking back at my journals from the last year, I noticed how much I was impacted by the noise.
Now, please let me preface with this comment that absolutely horrific things happened during last year as we all struggled with the pandemic, racial injustices, political strife, rampant wildfires, and so much more. I am not discounting any of those things in what I am about to say. But I miss the stillness that lockdown brought to our city. Maybe I had not noticed before, but the birds seemed to sing louder and I don’t think it was just because the planes were not constantly flying overhead. They gladly filled in the gaps where our noise used to drown them out. I took time to pause during the day, opened the windows, and went outside just to listen to them. Not that they have left since the planes and traffic have returned, but they are muffled more so than they were during this time.
Because I am learning to be okay with silence, I know that the birds in the background are a good way for me to ease into this practice. Becoming familiar with the intention of calming my racing mind and slowing down my anxious thoughts, the birds are helping me to settle into that place. A fountain or other sounds of nature help too. But focusing on the birds brings me to remember this verse:
Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap—and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you.
My heavenly Father is with me, providing, and caring for me even more than the birds that he also provides for. God cares for humans as his image bearers and other aspects of his creation, too. Not one or the other. Both. I also desire to care about and use my gifts, talents, and treasures to show my love for both.
Today, we celebrate World Environment Day, the 49th celebration and we look forward to the 50th next year in 2022. Like other posts I wrote about Earth Day, World Water Day, etc., I encourage you to check out what this movement of motivated image-bearers are doing for creation care. Their call to action is enticing to me:
REIMAGINE. RECREATE. RESTORE.
This is our moment.
We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature.
Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid.
Like I wrote in past posts, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the devastation and state that our planet is in. But we cannot let that stop us! We can all start somewhere!
Because I am a detail-oriented person, I am thinking ahead about what to bring on this trip, mainly, the essentials for any hike: snacks, water, sunscreen, bug spray, proper hiking boots and clothes, etc. How can I keep creation care in mind as I prepare for this trip? I think through the environmental impact of each item and how I can choose to lessen my ecological footprint.
- Sun Bum Sunscreen lotion or spray – I love Sun Bum because it is eco-friendly but is also great at protecting against UV rays. I use this everyday while I sit outside to work and it keeps me from burning.
- Deet-free Bug Spray – This is on my list to purchase! Glad to see that it has good reviews too!
- Boxed water – I have not tried this because we use reusable water bottles, but this would be a great alternative to single use plastic water bottles.
- I pack snacks in Tupperware or other reusable containers rather than buying individually wrapped snacks. We usually reuse cleaned yogurt or sour cream containers because they are lightweight for hiking.
- We buy our hiking clothes and sometimes boots from second hand stores or thrift stores which help to extend the life of the clothes before they end up in the landfill. I have a sewing machine and love hemming clothes (I am 5’4″ so I have some experience in this area) which makes it easy to get name-brand clothes for cheap with a little fixing.
You might be thinking, well, that’s great, Lisa, but I don’t hike, so this is not helpful for me! I am glad you said something! While I used hiking as an example, this process of thinking through your ecological footprint can be used with other activities as well. The above items are the basics for many activities but here are a few more ideas:
Heading to the beach this summer? Going with kiddos? Or, do you just really like making sand castles? There is such a thing as eco-friendly sand castle toys!!! Check these out: 26 Piece Beach toys made of wheat straw materials!
Support a local berry patch or farm and pick your own berries. Bring a basket or other non-plastic container to carry the berries in. If you can, choose organic! This is better for your body, the health of the farmers, and for the soil which is full of microorganisms that are negatively impacted by pesticides.