When hubby and I were waiting for Rowenna to arrive, we talked a lot about the things that are important to us and the values we wish to pass on to our daughter. Having grown up on a farm, hubby feels deeply tied to land and nature and the goings-on beyond the walls of our home. He truly takes pleasure in being a steward of the land. He has this certain smile when he’s out in the yard, wheeling dirt around, wielding a shovel or hoe, tending to his rows and rows of vegetables. I, too, feel a certain kinship with growing things, but truth be told – I’d like it a little better if it didn’t involve so much digging, weeding, and sweating!
One of our (many) plans for Rowenna is to offer her the opportunity to form a connection with animals. She has the kitty kinship thing down, and if luck is on our side, we’ll have some chickens by the summer. She is already an active participant in weeding and digging, though we do look forward to the day she can discern the difference between a weed and a plant we would like to leave in the garden. It is important to us that she feels dirt beneath her feet, dandelions tickle her chin, and the grounding, calming peace that comes from being outside.
The faith has some truly beautiful things to say about animals, nature, and stewardship of the earth.
“It is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature.”
“Educate the children in their infancy in such a way that they may become exceedingly kind and merciful to the animals. If an animal is sick they should endeavor to cure it; if it is hungry, they should feed it; if it is thirsty, they should satisfy its thirst; if it is tired, they should give it rest.”
“The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.”
“It is just the diversity [of nature] and variety that constitutes its charm; each flower, each tree, each fruit, beside being beautiful in itself, brings out by contrast the qualities of the others, and shows to advantage the special loveliness of each and all. “
” When… thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of all things, and the individuality of each, thou wilt behold the signs of thy Lord’s mercy in every created thing, and see the spreading rays of His Names and Attributes throughout all the realm of being.”
“As trustees, or stewards, of the planet’s vast resources and biological diversity, humanity must learn to make use of the earth’s natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, in a manner that ensures sustainability and equity into the distant reaches of time. This attitude of stewardship will require full consideration of the potential environmental consequences of all development activities. It will compel humanity to temper its actions with moderation and humility, realizing that the true value of nature cannot be expressed in economic terms. It will also require a deep understanding of the natural world and its role in humanity’s collective development—both material and spiritual.”