mMusing by President Jim – “Happy Earthday!” (April 27, 2020)

April 29, 2020 ~ James Brenneman

Monday in April. Happy Earthday! Fifty years and five days ago on April 22nd, the first ever world-wide earth-day was celebrated. It fell on the birthday of celebrated conservationist, John Muir, who did more than anyone to promote the idea of establishing a U.S. National Park service. By the end of 1970, it was Republican president, Richard Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This was followed in relatively short order by the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act –- all measures passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Sadly, today, such bipartisanship around protecting the environment has become its own endangered species.

Though no moral agency can be attached to a virus per se, one can’t help but project that “Mother Nature” has worked her karmic wonders upon a recalcitrant world. COVID-19 has brought even the strong and mighty to their knees. As we humans succumb to this deadly virus, the environment, it seems, is getting a long-deserved Sabbath. A bit of Jubilee has come to creation. Birdwatchers say the birds are singing louder. City-dwellers proclaim the air outside has been hepa-filtered. On my morning walks with our dog, Farley, the colors and smells of Spring are as bright and bold as ever. My Psalm for today was, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (24:1). Not ours, the Lord’s.

In this post-Easter season, may we be reminded that long before any human ever dwelt on this our home planet, Giant Sequoias stood silently in Muir Woods, a thousand-strong dolphin-pods squealed praises of delight off the coast of CA, and the Colorado River etched the Grand Canyon before no one’s eyes but God’s. And just this week, three little falcons hatched high above Cal Berkeley’s Campanile, oblivious to the havoc wrought on humankind 307 feet below. Signs of hope? I think so. Perhaps, the silver-lining in the corona virus clouds is this: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and ALL that dwells in it.” (24:1). Happy Earthday, everyone!