Our next door neighbors, who we like very much, informed my husband this past Thursday that they are having the very lovely, very tall, very healthy tree removed from our shared courtyard because "it serves no purpose." Apparently, in their opinion, it is too tall to be seen out their window, and it is shedding unwanted leaves on their roof. If the tree were six inches more in the direction of our house, we would share it and get to decide jointly in its fate. But it is not. The decision is entirely their own. And I don't know what to do.
All this weekend, I have been mourning about the imminent death of this majestic tree I have watched grow for the past eight years. This is most likely what led to my outburst at a dear friend after Sunday School today. We were all gathered under the breezeway for coffee, getting shelter from the rain, when a large beetle crawled right up to my foot. I bent down to greet the huge bug and to step sideways, to allow it access past my foot into the grass. Our friend quickly swooped in, pushed me aside and in one motion proudly crushed the bug then proceeded to drag its remains in a long and bloody streak across the pavement. I screamed out and violently slugged him very hard in the shoulder yelling something to the effect of, "It's Earth Day, you jerk!" He is an extremely sweet, gentle and thoughtful person who truly thought he was honestly saving me some great trauma with his action of heroism. He is one of our closest and dearest friends. My extreme reaction caught him utterly and completely by surprise.
I then walked into the sanctuary moments later, still shaking, but hoping for some sort of mention of Earth Day during the sermon. I knew just up the road at the Episcopal Church where the outdoor labyrinth is located, they were having a special Earth Stewardship message and a gathering afterwards of my Green Spirits friends to share in the fellowship of the day with a nature walk at the Japanese gardens. I really had wanted to join them for both, but felt like I needed to show up at our home church instead.
But there was no reference to anything environmentally focused at the Presbyterian church where we are officially members. The sermon was, instead, all about a call to missions. It was a powerful message about finding out what you are passionate about and then making that your mission in your community. The idea started brewing in me that maybe our new church IS my environmental mission field of calling. Perhaps God is calling me to prayerful work inside our own church congregation rather than outside its walls. Aside from one yellow recycling bin at the copy machine in the upstairs office, there appears to be no hint of conservation practices anywhere on campus that I have noticed in the past three years. Why this is, I cannot say. I love my new church family. I just don't always understand them. I suspect they feel the same way about me.
I returned from church utterly confused. I ranted in my journal for a while, then proceeded to try to nap away my feelings. I walked Lily in the neighborhood and then came home to photograph the courtyard tree and cry a bit more. I should have gone to the beach as I had planned to pick up trash, but I was just a mess of emotions and totally ineffective to manage to do anything but to stare at the evening clouds and sunset. In short, I succeeded in completely ruining the very day I had set out to honor and to celebrate.
And for what reason? Did anyone benefit from my emotional blow-up? No. Certainly not me. Certainly not my family or my friends. And, most certainly, not the earth or the beautiful tree that is just an arm's reach away from me as I type these words.
Clenched fists hurt others. Clenched fists are unable to pray. I am incapable of hearing God's quiet whispers when all I am doing is shouting. Missions - particularly my missions - are not meant to be militant.
I had really wanted to tell you about my beach walk earlier this week. I wanted to share with you the beauty and the joy of that special morning when God gave me roses from the ocean and poetry started bubbling up again in my heart and washing out onto the page. That was what I had really longed to tell you about tonight.