For this final day of the weird wild neighbors theme on the bestlife.community blog I'm bringing you weird wild neighbors with a twist as each of us takes a look in the mirror.
What makes us stand out as weird (or if you prefer, unique) among all things living on the earth?
One thing that has always struck me, as a theologian, a conservationist, and someone who views the scientific theory of evolution as the best theory we currently have to describe why things are the way they are...is that as homo sapiens, we are simultaneously creatures of such great and terrible potential.
The truth is, in comparison to the other living things on this earth, we are weird; with our big thinking brains and our ability to adapt to and transform landscapes and environments to suit our intents and purposes more profoundly than any other, we are a force to be reckoned with.
I wrote a blog post about four years ago reflecting in story form on the fact that we are the dominant species on the earth and the only hominid species walking the earth today not because of our benevolence but because of our ability to be fiercely competitive with those who want what we want, and who have what we need. Check out the link and give it a read if you have a moment.
We are creatures of great and terrible potential. I want to avoid the terrible and be a really great person by loving my fellow human beings and all of my wild neighbors; but I struggle. Time and again it is a struggle.
Time and again I find that my life is a mess and I simply can't do all of the good that I want to do or all of the good that I believe God would have me do if left to my own devices. There is a better way, and there is help.
The truth is, that the answer I've found is Jesus. I am well aware that it sounds totally cliche for me to say something along the lines of "Jesus is the answer." But when I say that I'm not just talking about Jesus being the answer to some far-off distant heaven after we die. I believe with all of my heart and mind that Jesus came to initiate a revolution of love in this world, a love which is the antithesis of hatred, selfishness, and survival of the fittest. Jesus came to bring that heavenly reality of peace, hope, and love to impact this good earth. In his life, death, and resurrection the love of Jesus was shown to be the most powerful force.
This power of Jesus is at work in us through the presence of what the Christian tradition calls the Holy Spirit; it is a way of saying "the Spirit of God." The two phrases can be synonymous. The Holy Spirit lives in and through us; and not only in us, but the Holy Spirit is understood to be the source and sustainer of all life, and this Holy Spirit empowers us in a very special way.
There is a running theme throughout all of the stories in the Bible and I believe that the Apostle Paul sums it up very well in chapter 5 of his letter to the Romans; he writes that we have hope, and the reason for that hope is that "we know how dearly God loves us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love." (Romans 5:5)
Yes, we struggle. Yes, deep down each of us knows that we have potential to do great things or to do terrible things, and maybe at the moment our lives are a menagerie of both. Yes, there is goodness in us; yes, we long for peace, for a world where harmony is found between people and wildlife and wild spaces. Yes, we want to do good but we can't do it alone.
The Holy Spirit is our empowerer, filling our hearts in a very special way with the love of Jesus.
As we look at the world around us, and as we take a look in the mirror, let us resolve to let the love of Jesus that fills our hearts find expression in our living as we partner with God and each other to bring the full impact of Jesus' revolution of love to this good earth that is teeming with all sorts of incredibly fascinating and beautiful weird wild neighbors!
Finding God, self, and community in wild spaces. The better we know our wild neighbors the more we'll discover ourselves.
A vision informed by Henry David Thoreau’s interpretation of sauntering, Jesus’ understanding of neighbor, Aldo Leopold’s concept of thinking like a mountain, Rachel Carson’s prophetic voice and John Muir’s way of capturing the beauty and uniqueness of wild neighbors with words.