The fate of the Earth and our role in reclaiming its health may be more clear on the radar this year than any year since the first Earth Day in 1970. A tipping point seems to have been reached this past year, and - whether you agree with most scientists that global warming is caused primarily by humans, or not - a vast majority of people now agree that it's time we take steps to reduce our impact on "this garden, this harbor, this holy place."
The heartening thing is that our kids - most of 'em - get this. As I write this Earth Day afternoon, my daughter is at work on a class report on global warming. (She chose the topic, just as she asked me to see An Inconvenient Truth last summer.) Despite some reports of small children having nightmares about polar bears marooned on ever-smaller chunks of ice, my daughter's generation is neither hysterical nor dour about the climate crisis. They simply recognize the challenge and are setting forth to be the change that needs to happen, fast, if we're going to turn things around.
Sometimes, our kids will be willing to go farther than we are. My girl recently decided to become a vegetarian, while her father and I probably won't ever entirely give up gratefully, concientiously eating animals. That doesn't mean we adults don't need to keep doing our share, as I constantly do when I remind my child that there's a reason why I've become adamant about walking or riding the bus, combining car errands, keeping our garbage to about one bag a week, and turning off lights in unoccupied rooms.
But there is definitely something to be said for putting gloom on the back burner as we combat global warming. At church today, one speaker asked us all to recall and meditate on a "peak environmental experience" from our past, and then she described a few she'd had growing up on a ranch north of Mountain Home, and later traveling the world with her park ranger-international development specialist husband.
My thoughts turned to the times I've slept under the stars on the banks of the Missouri River Breaks in Montana, coyotes singing me to sleep. Or the time when, driving a dirt road southwest of Dillon, Montana, I had to literally stop my truck, get out, and watch a procession of unusually vivid clouds roll across the sky. Or the time a few years back when my young daughter steadily struck a drum - echoing our collective heartbeat - to lead our Magic Valley Unitarian fellowship into a forest grove on our annual summer church camp-out.
These gifts are why we try to honor our home today and every day. Source of all, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.