The Accidental Green Life

How Christian Piety Can Grace the Earth

Day after small day, Merton's journals—written in solitude—put flesh on the Psalmist's ancient song, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge …. Their voice goes out into all the earth" (Psalm 19:1-2, 4).

We're not surprised, then, to find that Merton eventually hears promise in the birds' heralding of spring. This promise "grows more and more definite" and causes him to reflect, "I look up at the morning star: in all this God takes His joy, and in me also, since I am His creation and His son, His redeemed, and member of His Christ."

If we, like Merton, accept the invitation of solitude, even for as little as 10 minutes a day as Barton suggests, and especially by retreating to an outdoors place, we might also experience such promise and joy. We might find ourselves saying, along with Wisdom who was with God at the dawn of creation, "I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world" (Proverbs 8:30-31).

What kind of wise craftsmen could we really be though? After all, the created world is already created, and our own powers have clear limitations. What could we do at God's side today besides rejoice in and love his work? Not that rejoicing and loving end in passivity. As Erik Reece, secular writer of Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness observes, "No one will fight to save something one does not love."


When Paul discusses the supremacy of Christ in Colossians, he begins with creation, telling us that "by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …" We discover that God spoke creation into being through Christ. But Paul goes on to say, "in him all things hold together," so we see Christ's creative activity goes on through his acts of sustenance, day after day. Creation is still happening.

The Psalmist, speaking of the earth and all its creatures, expresses such creation this way, "When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die …. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth" (Psalm 104:29-30).

In other words, the Spirit of Christ holds us together, down to the atoms that are our building blocks and up to the daily bread we need to fill our bellies and the air we need to fill our lungs. Through him we continue to exist, to be created and renewed.

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May 25

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