[The following theological reflection, written by our Theologian in Residence Edward Dunar, appears in tomorrow’s issue of the Craigville Chronicle]
On one of our early dates, my wife Kate and I spent a morning pulling invasive garlic mustard plants at an arboretum in Madison, Wisconsin. While chatting with the project leaders, I was amazed to learn that our efforts were just one small part of a forty-year restoration plan. The morning’s toils, futile from the perspective of a day but critical from the perspective of a century, reminded me of the construction of cathedrals in the Middle Ages, when builders worked on projects that would not have been completed within their lifetimes.
Two weekends ago, I was reminded of such “cathedrals” again when I attended the Red Lily Pond Project’s Radical Joy for Hard Times event on the Gavitts’ dock. Craigville’s restoration efforts for the ponds began forty years ago, shortly after the institution of the first Earth Day. At the event, Red Lily Pond Project leaders discussed how we have much progress to celebrate and much work still to do.
This sort of dedication is not uncommon. In small villages and big city neighborhoods alike, people devote themselves to a place and grow along with it over the course of years or decades. Teachers spend years building programs and departments in schools, church communities devote themselves to transforming communities, and ecologists develop long-term plans for reclaiming habitats.
This summer in the Tabernacle, we’re reflecting upon the theme, “Treasuring God’s Creation: A Pilgrimage.” An important part of treasuring God’s creation, whether the majesty of nature or the unique irreplaceable presence of friends and family, is to lend our own hands in serving God’s mission of protecting, restoring, and nurturing. The slow process of restoring a pond or building a community is a sign of great faith in God’s presence. An hour or an afternoon of work or prayer or celebration might seem like a small step, but it is the consistency and fidelity of such steps that get cathedrals built.