Responding to Creation’s Endangerment with Passion

“If we fall in love with creation deeper and deeper, we will respond to its endangerment with passion.”  Hildegard of Bingen

    In the northern part of the state of Utah is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere.   Once it was a prehistoric body of water spanning thousands of square miles.   But over the past decades, the area of Great Salt Lake has fallen significantly.  After years of drought and increased water diversion, it has fallen to its lowest area at 950 square miles.

     With a high salinity that is saltier than seawater, the Great Salt Lake had been referred to as America’s Dead Sea.   Once it had been a haven and habitat for millions of native birds, brine shrimp, shorebirds, and waterfowl.   Now at a record low, it ultimately will become a bowl of toxic dust, poisoning the air around Salt Lake City.   A researcher who’s been investigating its cataclysmic demise calls it an “extinction event.”

  Yet over a thousand years ago, the writer, mystic, abbess, philosopher, and visionary, Hildegard of Bingen, perceived not only ecological peril but saw a way out.   Though it meant adopting a radical counter-cultural approach, the antidote would save the planet and thereby all of us.

  Her remedy?  “If we fall in love with creation deeper and deeper, we will respond to its endangerment with passion,” Hildegard wrote.   However, we must take note that her prescription goes far beyond merely seeking and enjoying the great outdoors, to a radical realignment of what it is we most deeply value.

   Imagine if your child or grandchild was in danger of being hit by a car, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to save them?  Imagine, if your adult child was struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, or your beloved teenage daughter ran away from home, or your only son struggled with depression; wouldn’t you go the distance?   If the one who meant the world to you was in danger, wouldn’t you do all that you could to save them?

   But children, grandchildren, and members of our extended family are our flesh and blood, we say.  Lush forests and clear streams and huge herds of bison are beautiful even majestic to see but they’re not the same as us.   Nor are they connected to us the way our own children and grandchildren are.

  But what if they are?   What if all of creation is our flesh and blood too?  Such that it not only courses through our veins and inhabits our lungs but is ingested with everything we eat and drink.   What if it is more than just a part of us?   What if we are in creation AND creation is in us?

  What if all of creation is our flesh and blood too?

[1] The Great Salt Lake is shown in the background of the earthwork Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point in Utah. Last year the Great Salt Lake matched a 170-year record low and kept dropping, hitting a new low of 4,190.2 feet (1,277.2 meters) in October. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Author: Jessica McArdle

These are dark and corrosive times. As a writer and ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, I use prayer, poetry, reflection, and scripture to re-align our embattled spirits with the uniqueness and urgency of our God-given identity and call.

4 thoughts on “Responding to Creation’s Endangerment with Passion”

  1. “ What if all of creation is our flesh and blood too?”

    Our continued failure to recognize all creation as family is the lynchpin of our undoing.

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