September 18, 2016

Lost and found

I have a guilty secret! I love movies, and not just any movies, but kids’ movies, especially Disney movies.  These folks seem to have big hearts for the human condition, and they are brazen in their exploration of tough issues.  Want your 8-year-old to learn how to manage their feelings and talk about what bugs them, try Inside Out. Want them to be educated on techniques to combat racism? Sit them down to watch Zootopia.  All kinds of topics that we adults might hesitate to discuss because we’re feeling discomfort, they have worked on.  They even have worked on environmental commentary.  I was fascinated by the latest Pixar Disney movie, Finding Dory.  It tackles several topics, dealing with everything from physical disabilities, like Nemo’s fin to mental challenges, like Dory’s lack of short term memory, which causes her and her friends no end of problems.  Dory says, “nothing in my noggin” to explain her disability, which is quite untrue of course.  There is more than meets the eye in Dory, and more than meets the eye in the movie of a quest for family through the wide ocean from the Great Barrier Reef to the California coastline. 

This movie shows three fish on their adventure through the ocean stumbling repeatedly through a sea floor littered with cars, garbage, plastic and so on.  It’s subtly done, and the fish characters never make a big deal of it except when Dory gets tangled up in plastic and has to be rescued by a marine biologist.  It’s sad that we have known about the giant island of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for years and no one has done anything about it.  It’s sad that Victoria still dumps raw sewage into the ocean, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia online.  CBC reported last year that Montreal dumps untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence, and that roughly 185-million litres of raw sewage have been dumped into Winnipeg's rivers since 2004. 

That’s about 74 Olympic sized swimming pools.  I don’t know how that compares to our town pool here across the street, but that’s a lot of water.  And when Toronto has a big storm or Halifax’s aging pipes break down, well, let’s just say that it’s not pretty.

Water is a part of us, and a part of our world.  It is changing faster than we realize, and it shouldn’t take a cruise ship sailing the North West Passage to get our attention, and to encourage us to encourage the politicians to do something.

We’ve lost our way.  We’ve forgotten that we are what we drink and that if we completely mess up our water systems, it’s going to make Jeremiah’s description of desolation come true.  The devastation of the fruitful earth is a desecration and a reversal of Genesis 1 when God’s breathe, Ruach, blew over the world and God saw that it was good.  Jeremiah reports God seeing what foolish humans have done, and it is definitely not good.   Is this what God wants for creation? Is this what we call good stewardship?

Jesus talked about going after and rescuing the insignificant, the least and the littlest.  Making an effort to hunt for that tiny coin, abandoning the herd of sheep to go looking for a lost lamb, the 1 percent.  The tiny insignificant things do matter.  When we monitor the quality of water in the Athabasca River, when we invest in a low-flow shower head or a dual flush toilet, when we change the way we brush our teeth to conserve the water more carefully, when we drink water straight from the tap to remind ourselves that water should be clean and potable and not controlled by multinational corporations, when we keep asking our politicians, when will first nations children in Canada all be guaranteed clean drinking water, when we remember to not take for granted what we pump up from our wells, when we remember to be careful when we clean up after an oil change or a painting project, it does make a difference.  It may be a drop in the bucket, but it matters, folks!  Those little actions, those attitudes and questions will add up over time.  A drop of water, millions of times over, can carve out the Drumheller river valley, or even the Grand Canyon.

We in the United Church like to preach about a God who loves us, and I do believe in that God.  But there were times when my children were small that I got exasperated with them.  Sometimes they wandered off in the store when I was trying to shop for something.  A few seconds later, I would be searching for them frantically until I would hear ‘would the mother of the little child please come to the jewelry counter’.  I would feel frustrated that they hadn’t listened, that I hadn’t watched closely enough over them, that it took only a moment for them to move so fast.  If God is the creator of this beautiful blue planet, surely there is a need to honor that creation by whatever little steps we can take to cherish it.  Because from all accounts, there isn’t a lot of water nearby and even if we harvested clean water on Mars and brought it back here, I’m not sure we could get it here fast enough to help the fish and the whales and other creatures in the ocean and rivers.  They don’t have a voice, unlike Dory and Nemo and Marlin, and we do.  May we do our best to keep doing our best to speak up for this beautiful world before it is lost into the vision Jeremiah painted so bleakly many centuries ago.  God help us find the vision, the words and the backbone to speak for the lost ones, confront the foolish ones and challenge the complacent ones, especially when we are the lost, foolish and complacent ones.  God have mercy on us all.  Amen.

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