dweller by the river

sojourner of earth attempting to understand the journey home

Month: January, 2014

A Conservationist Approach

I’ve had a slower start to this blog than I initially wanted, partly because I’ve been occupied with nursury visits and ensuring that my five new plants get acclimatised with minimal shock and damage, and partly because I’ve been reading this book:

A Conservationist Manifesto by Scott Russell Sanders
Usually it takes me only a day to finish a book of this size, but Prof Sanders’ material is taking me a long time to get through because I am emotionally and mentally challenged by it. Some parts are downright depressing; he starkly lays out in black-and-white all the evils that our species has done to our planet, and just by looking around you on a everyday basis, you can tell that he is right.

It’s great, however, to know that there are amazing minds out there who also feel the same way that you do, and who have already written about it at length and who therefore can help you crystallise your own thoughts and convictions on the subject. (Click here for a good review of the book.)

The main thing I’m thinking about this weekend is this: We aren’t the only species on Earth that matters. When God created the universe, He did it because it pleased Him to do so. When He created the earth, He did it because it pleased Him to do it. When He chose to create man in His own image, it was because it pleased Him to do so.

God didn’t create the earth or the universe for man, nor did He give everything to man to be used as man saw fit. In fact, according to Genesis, these are the very first things He said and the very first job that He gave to man (who was the last species to be created):

Genesis 1: 28, NKJV
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 2: 15, NKJV
Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

To have dominion over something, or to subdue it, is not about having the right to do anything you wish to it and with it. It is the right to rule over it, and to exercise the power to take control of chaos and violence and effect harmony and peace.

We have been given divine authority to rule this world and maintain its health and prosperity as a whole, not to destroy it in pursuit of our own selfish desires. That is a charge. It is not a licence to do as we will. The earth does not belong to us. It belongs to the Creator. It hasn’t even been leased to us, to use a term that some preachers have been known to us. We aren’t renting space from a divine landlord (even if we were, we still wouldn’t have the right to trash the place!), we are merely put here to do a job because He knew that we need to have something to do to give us purpose and direction, and that left to our own devices we are unable to find a good one on our own.

I think that’s why we are all so obsessed with the notions of fate, destiny, and calling. Whatever term you prefer, it all comes back to the desire (secret/closet in the case of those who publicly deny it) to know what your existence is supposed to mean and what is is supposed to effect in the grand story of eternity. We want to choose our own paths, but we still wonder what we’re “supposed” to do with our lives.

Look at it seriously and objectively and I’m sure you will have to admit that the communities that are the most contented and fulfilled, who have the most drive and passion, and who have the best relationships, are those who are in some way involved in stewarding Creation. If you don’t agree with this statement, it probably just means that our definitions of some terms differ.

Why do I want to keep plants in my home? Why did I search until I found a species that I can tend successfully?

Because taking care of something that my Lord and my God created gives me a small opportunity, here in our steel-and-concrete city, to practice stewardship of the earth.

Because being responsible for the well-being of something that He made on a daily basis teaches me so much more than sitting in a plush modern “pew” in an expensive new building listening to one man telling me what he believes God wants me to know.

As to what I feel about church — that’s a matter for another post.

Seeding the Year


The past three or four Januaries have seen the husband and I attending short retreats with a loose group of friends. We come together to have a last discussion on what we took away from the year just passed, and take time to pray about and set goals for the new year.

This year, the usual organiser isn’t in town and it’s down to just two. We are going to meet at one of my favourite places, Gardens by the Bay, so I’m looking forward to it much more than if we had arranged to meet at some random cafe or multi-purpose space.

Most likely I will be there early to spend some time among the shrubs before she arrives.

C. Austin Miles’ old song seems to be shaping up as my song for the year.

In The Garden

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me, and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me is falling
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling