Who Cares for our Common Home?

ByToni Rowland

Sep 3, 2019

Involvement in a short musical work called CAPTAIN NOAH AND HIS FLOATING ZOO links up in my mind with the incredible devastation caused by wind and water in the Bahamas in the last few days.  The opening number in the musical starts, “The Lord looked down on the earth and it made him sad. “It should have been good what I made but it turned out bad. There’s nothing but sinning, wickedness and violence there, remind me to wash mankind right out of my hair.  I’m gonna make it rain and rain and rain and rain and rain.…….  And so on.

Was the situation anything like the Bahamas when Noah had been told by God to build an ark?  Was it like that as he gathered the animals two by two and entered the ark with his family “who had been good?”  Genesis does tell us that society had become so wicked that God was sorry he had created them and decided to punish them and wipe them out. Is there not a serious lesson there for today, irrespective of whether it actually happened just as the Bible tells it. Today it seems there is less focus on the message than on the possible place – was it Mount Ararat?-  where the ark might have landed. In any case, imagine the devastation at the time and the extent of the flood if the ark did actually land on top of a mountain.

The Bahama hurricane is very current, but only a few months ago 2 cyclones devastated parts of Mocambique and Malawi  with the loss of more than 600 lives, as apart from destruction adults and children were swept away by flood waters. Mocambique is a very poor country, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis this week to highlight the responsibility of everyone in his message of the care for the poor and for creation.

Clearly today nature has found a way to pay us back for our selfish and sinful ways that Pope Francis referred to again in his letter on 1 September on the WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION. He invites all people to begin a SEASON OF CREATION, a season of awareness, from September 1 to October 4, the feastday of St Francis, the patron saint of nature and the environment.

It is ironic that as noted in MARFAM’s THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY, we here are now celebrating spring – a season of new life and new birth – but at the same time yearn for the rain that is so sorely needed as the days of September go by.  In other parts of the world, not only the Bahamas and the American hurricane region, but also in India, China and Africa excessive rain causes devastation and untold misery to the populations and to other elements of nature, animals and plants.

What can we each do, not only about water but the care of creation? We could start by asking “How green is my backyard, or how clean is my backyard and the environment in our suburb or township? Driving through a number of poorer areas and townships last Sunday morning on my way to a parish visit and to present a message about Spring Day and the WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION it was shocking to see the rubbish, much of it plastic, littering every unoccupied piece of land.  One sees few gardens but many children playing in the streets. Seeing people out and about in the streets is a different sight to the neat and walled off suburbs of the more wealthy where no one ventures outside because that is judged to be too dangerous. https://www.marfam.org.za/1153587-2/PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION

What is our mentality, our attitude towards this place we call home? One must admire Mayor Mashaba for promoting a cleaning up campaign in Johannesburg and there are other places where this happens. But if we do not see beauty around us can we truly value our natural environment?  If we are dependent on water, in the form of floods, to wash away the trash, we are fools.  All that trash ends up in streams and Rainbowrivers and ultimately in the ocean, is swallowed by sea creatures, who if they survive, return it to us embedded in our food.  Is that what recycling is about?  As the islands of the Bahamas survive the effects of the hurricane and storm surges higher than the height of their islands where is all the debris going, quite apart from the massive costs involved.

What on earth is our God of love saying to us today as he once again shows us the power of nature that he has created for our benefit and for which we do bear responsibility.  Will we once again see his rainbow in the sky?

Where do we start?  Pope Francis suggests reflecting on our lifestyle, acting and speaking out prophetically.   “This is the season for letting our prayer be inspired anew by closeness to nature as a part of the network of life.” It is our life and our common home.

MARFAM offers some starting points too in the article, https://www.marfam.org.za/how-green-is-your-backyard-or-mine/“How green is your backyard or mine?”


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