“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
The swallows arrived back on Easter Sunday this year. They have been coming to nest in our outbuildings for as long as we can remember, and seeing them return is always a moment for celebration. They are early this year though; about three weeks earlier than usual and as we talked about why that might be, the subject of the climate came up. Have our swallows returned early because of climate change?
“Climate change” has been around as a phrase for at least 40 years but more recently it has become almost as common to hear the phrases “climate crisis” or “climate justice.” Justice is a big issue throughout the Bible as God reminds his people over and over again of the importance of being fair in their dealings with everyone and everything, but particularly with those who are poor or oppressed in any way. The vast majority of climate scientists tell us that the climate is changing because of human activity; for the most part, the human activity of those of us who live in the richer and more developed parts of the world. I have been convicted over and over in the last few years that the way I choose to live my life has an impact on people, creatures, and ecosystems who are poor and oppressed and vulnerable and who need me to do what I can to work towards climate justice for all of creation. And that is why I have protested with Christian Climate Action, written to my MP, gone vegetarian, tried to avoid buying new clothes and spent time connecting with nature simply by sitting and being and becoming more aware of where God is in the climate crisis.
In Psalm 84 the writer sings out his longing to be in the temple of the Lord. But he also acknowledges that it is not only people who find a home in the presence of God. He writes “Lord who rules over all, even the sparrow has found a home near your altar. My King and my God, the swallow also has a nest there, where she may have her young.”
As I look at the swallows now flying around my garden, I remember that they and every other creature and plant on earth is valued and loved by God simply because he made them. I wonder what it was that prompted them to migrate slightly earlier this year, and I ponder yet again what part is mine to play in bringing climate justice to this sacred earth. Personally, I shall continue to take action, continue to keep an eye on my carbon footprint, and continue to pray as so many have before me “change the world Lord, and start with me.”
I wonder where you see your part in this?
Image: Swallows captured on camera by Hilary Bond
This reflection article was written by Hilary Bond for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and climate.’ Hilary is a school’s worker, pioneer priest and third order Franciscan based in Wareham, Dorset.