Saturday, February 01, 2020

DE Ponderings

by Kevin Kessler

I recently finished a novel written by Richard Powers entitled The Overstory. The novel is about the need to care for creation with special attention given to trees. Powers presents a strong case that nature needs trees in order to thrive. Trees have communication mechanisms giving them the ability to protect themselves as well as the environment around them. Trees cleanse carbon from the air and release oxygen, helping to keep a needed balance of gases in our atmosphere. Even trees that have reached the end of their lives and fall to the forest floor provide food for fungi and insects and other living organisms. I learned more about trees in 500 pages of a novel than I’ve known in six decades of life, and how vitally important and valuable trees are to the sustainability of life.
Within the novel, Powers uses a Chinese proverb: The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.

There are times when we bemoan the fact that if I had done thus and so some time ago then this would be the reality today. The reality is that we can’t change the past, but we can take responsibility for present, the now.

With ruptures in our environment presently, we may find ourselves wishing we’d have done something more to protect it years ago. But that day is past. Inaction then does not preclude action now. Now is the time to act. And action now can give us the opportunity to say somewhere in the future that we are glad we took action then. The tree was planted twenty years ago.

To act now is never too late; to never act perhaps is.

Certainly, this is a vital understanding with regard to nature and the created order. And I see it as vital for the church, as well.

Frequently I hear stories of how vital and alive the church was in the past, which implies that today the church is experiencing the opposite. Subsequently implied, what if we had done years ago some new things, planted some seeds or “trees” that today would be at a new level of maturity? Prevailing is this sense of hopelessness. But hopelessness will only prevail if missed planting of “trees” years ago is not given attention now.

Rather than be concerned with what could have been, imagine the outcomes years down the road if the emphasis is to act now, to plant now. Plant a tree, an idea, an action, today. Now is the time.

What we do now widens the horizon for the church to thrive and be experienced as a tree of life for generations to come extending beyond our wildest imaginations.