BISHOP SUTTON ON CARING FOR ALL OF GOD’S CREATION
In Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, the spiritual teacher Father Zosima speaks of the interconnectedness of all life:
All is like an ocean, all flows and connects; touch it in one place and it echoes at the other end of the world… Love all of God’s creation, both the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love animals, love plants, love each thing. If you love each thing, you will perceive the mystery of God in all things.
That spiritual wisdom is what lifts people of faith to care for all of God’s creation. It is what moved St. Francis of Assisi to compose his great canticle celebrating “Brother Sun and Sister Moon” and a host of other creatures. It has compelled the world’s greatest spiritual leaders from Christian mystics to Mahatma Gandhi to the Dalai Lama to Archbishop Desmond Tutu to believe in God’s universal love that knows no bounds of race or faith or nation—or even of species. Scientists now tell us that nature participates in a seamless web of connection; it is actually possible that the flap of a butterfly wing in Japan can set off a hurricane in the Caribbean. And the driving of a gas guzzler in here in Washington, DC can melt an iceberg in Greenland. Everything really is connected.
In a similar way, we are all connected—to one another and to the natural world in which we live—and that is why it pains the religious community deeply to know that some of us are more adversely affected by the destroying of God’s creation than others. For sadly, it is true that environmental degradation in the United States is very much tied to issues of justice and race.
To help guide the Diocese toward the goal of making their parishes and communities more environmentally friendly, in 2009 I formed the Environmental Steering Committee, composed of representatives from across our diocese. That group formed the Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners (MEEP), which has recently generated the GreenGrace ministry, a mission of our diocese.
GreenGrace can help your parish implement projects to care for all God’s creation. I invite you to take a look at the amazing environmental programs in parishes around the Diocese of Maryland, particularly those at St. Luke’s in Eastport, and both Memorial Episcopal and Redeemer in Baltimore City.
Thank you for considering GreenGrace ideas and feel free to contact the GreenGrace co-leads with any ideas and questions to GreenGrace@episcopalmaryland.org.
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland