Interconnectedness of Humans and Nature and Their Relationship with God

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Mascaro, Kathryn
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
| have planted a garden for my pastoral project which is part of my masters’ program in pastoral theology. | planted it around the tall spruce tree in the traffic island at the east end of the driveway belonging to the rectory. It consists of three small shrubs at the western end, an eastern border of annuals, and a circle of perennials around the tree. Planting a garden is creating new life in an expanse of rich soil that is empty and waiting. Itis akin to God helping new life to grow in a womb (Sarah gives birth to Isaac [Genesis 21:1-2], Hannah gives birth to Samuel [1 Samuel 1:19-20], Elizabeth gives birth to John [Luke 1:57-58], Mary gives birth to Jesus [Luke 1:35; 2:6-7]). As with all births, we are looking at the potential for great accomplishments. All living things, both human and non-human, enter life with the potential to grow and to come to fruition. The people who witness a birth speculate about what the future will hold for this new addition and hope for grand and wonderful experiences. Think of Zechariah’s Canticle as he speaks of his son John the Baptist’s potential (Luke 1:67-79). New life brings the promise of exciting things to come. We hope that this excitement will bring favorable and delightful, even while knowing that all life encounters trials and tribulations. New life in any form, of course, is very vulnerable. It requires extra care and nurturing to simply help it survive, let alone thrive and prosper. We remember St. Joseph taking his wife Mary and the infant Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath (Matthew 3:13-15). Gardens must be fed, watered and cultivated (Genesis 2:15). Plants, like children, must be given room to grow. The Bible describes life as beginning in a garden (Genesis 2:4b-15). This description honors the interdependence of all life, human and non-human. Humans’ most basic needs of food and drink are filled by the non-human elements of God's creation. The survival of these non-human elements depends on humans dealing with the erosion that threatens croplands, the pollution that fouls streams, and the chemicals and particles that poison the very air that all living things, human and non-human, breathe. Itis important to not lose sight of our critical connection with the rest of God's creation. Itis not just a matter of having the finest quality of life, but the essence of having life at all. The earth moves in a circular motion, as it always has in the past and will always in the future (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). It is a gorgeous blue “marble” spinning as it circles the sun which moves in the circular universe. Life on earth also moves in circles. Water rains down, gives life to the plants and animals, flows to the sea, evaporates to the clouds for purification, and rains down again. Plants have a life cycle, going from seed to sprout to plant to flower to seed. Humans have a life cycle — birth, childhood, adult, old age, death. The extended family cycles through generations, and history repeats itself. The seasons are cyclic, both in nature and in the church. Our Christian spiritual life is a spiral ascent upward toward God (Gregory of Nyssa). Life began in a garden, and it will end in a garden (Revelation 22:1-2). All life will come full circle in the end.