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Morning musings from my porch

August 17, 2021

Every morning I take my coffee out onto my porch to greet the new day and spend time in prayer and meditation before I face the busyness of my day. I start by greeting God and thanking God for the possibilities and promises inherent in a new day.

Then I pay attention to my environs, using all my senses to enter fully and completely into this moment and my surroundings. I notice the sun, the sky, the hills I can see through a gap in the houses across the street; the trees, the flowers, the plants, and the grass; the birds and the bees; the clouds, and the

breeze. Occasionally the moon is out, and I take an Alice in Wonderland moment to wonder about the incongruity of sun and the moon shining at the same time. I breathe deeply and inhale the scents of a new morning – cut grass, damp earth, the scent of flowers, and more often than I like the artificial scent of downy dryer sheets or the fumes of car exhaust. And I thank God for all these wonders that God created and which we are both charged with the care of and recipients of the beauty of.

All four classical elements are represented. Earth in the hills I can see and the ground solid beneath my feet. Fire in the morning sun which in this part of California at this time of year burns with intensity even at an early hour.

Air all around me which on most days is the gentlest of breezes which barely moves the fountain grass in front of me,

and sometimes is a strong wind that

lashes the palm fronds across the street;. Water from the sprinklers on my street, the sound of which provide a soothing accompaniment to my morning musings and release the scent of petrichor,

even while I wonder and worry about the precious drops being poured out on ornamental landscaping and lawns.

My surroundings don’t only consist of beautiful and natural things though. There is plenty of evidence of human made elements which compete for resources and threaten the natural order of God’s creation. Homes that house my neighbors, roads and sidewalks, electricity pylons and cables. There are cars and trucks. All of which have a function and on all of which our modern lives depend. Imagine for a moment, what life would be like without these things. Without electricity we would have no light, and our food would not stay fresh because we would not be able to run our refrigerators. We would have no heat in the winter, and most important at this time of year where I live, no air conditioning as the temperature climbs well above 100 degrees.

Without cars and roads we would not be able to safely and efficiently travel the distance we need to get to our jobs or buy the things necessary for our survival and those we consider necessary.

We have adopted and accepted a way of life that depends on these things. We could not go back to living without them even if we wanted to. There are too many people on this earth now to survive the way people survived before industrialization. And yet the very things on which our lives as we know them depend are killing the earth and will eventually kill us too if we do nothing. All of these things have a negative impact on the natural beauty and order of our world. We burn huge amounts of natural resources plundered from the earth and pollute rivers and the atmosphere to produce electricity. Cars burn fossil fuels and pollute the atmosphere with carbon, which contributes to global warming, which in turn prompts us to run our air conditioners more often during the hot summer months, adding more carbon to the air and increasing to the temperatures they are supposed to combat. Roads and sidewalk cover the earth and intrude on natural habitats and wildlife. There are over 4 million miles of roadways in the United States; approximately 20% of the country is impacted by roads, which dramatically alter the landscape and kill an estimated 1 million vertebrates every day and have been identified as a leading cause of decline in some populations.

And yet as I sit on my porch and reflect I also give thanks to God for these manmade things which so much of life as we know it depends on – for the houses which shelter us even as they cover the earth and interrupt the natural systems; the electricity which gives us light and provides power for our refrigerators to keep our food from spoiling, and for our stoves to cook our food; the roads for providing a fast and efficient and above all safe means for us to travel, and the cars which take us where we need to go swiftly and safely.

And as I give thanks, I ask God for the awareness of their impact and the willingness to alleviate their use; to grant us all understand and acknowledge

the detrimental impact on God’s creation and do whatever is in our power to mitigate that.

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