We moved into our house eleven years ago. Andrew and Hope were nine and five. The house is about 40 years old, and we are now the longest lasting owners. If I remember the myths, there were six previous owners in the 30 years before us.
We have installed a new water heater, a new roof, a new furnace, new insulation, new floor coverings throughout (and are thinking about replacing some of what we installed when we first moved in.)
In short, houses need work.
A few minutes ago, I was sitting in a swing on the swingset at the back of the yard. I’m thinking about a conversation I have soon, and was thinking and praying and listening. And while there, I looked around at the yard. It looks very different than when we moved in as well. Under four oak trees we have several varieties of hosta and columbine and daylilies and other plants Nancy has tried to explain to me. There are new trees as well, spread through the perennial garden. That’s not to be confused with the herb garden. Or the wild grasses and black-eyed susans at the back of the yard.
I heard three kinds of birds that I don’t know, and squirrels. I watched for the black swallowtails which we hope will hatch. For 10 days, Nancy watched five caterpillars devour one of her fennel plants. One by one they disappeared. We are afraid that something may have found fennel-stuffed caterpillar a delicacy, but we still hope that there are chrysalii somewhere close.
Why all this conversation about change and growth and repair? Because today is blog action day. Today we are supposed to talk about the environment. And though I committed to write today as part of the project, I am not an environmentalist, not in the big public sense of that word. Further, Christ followers have a bad reputation in relation to the environment, particularly the conservative protestant sort of us. There is this sense that since the world will be destroyed anyway, no one needs to take care of it.
As I sat in the back yard today, I realized that being environmentally responsible can happen as part of living, particularly if we try to live lightly and simply and slowly. We have, while here, saved energy by putting in insulation. We have, while here, added green in addition to grass, have added varieties of plants which attract and nurture butterflies and hummingbirds. We have added some fluorescent lights.
Perhaps as important, we have nurtured the two kids you see in the corner. They live fairly simply. They have been known to buy at Goodwill and Salvation Army and wear out clothes. They have been known to talk with each other and appreciate each other. They have been known to ride a bicycle instead of drive. They have been known to bring peace to conversations, to ask God for direction.
I wish I had an incredibly profound list of actions to take which would save the planet. Lacking that list, here is another one.
1. Stop. Just stop.
3. Go to Goodwill or Salvation Army
4. Fix something.
6. Be patient about change.
7. Start change.
8. Remember that the oaks in the backyard were there before the house. And if I let them breathe, they will outlast the house.
9. Give lightbulbs to people who can’t afford that step.
10. Go sit in someone’s backyard, if not your own.
By the way, just 30 minutes in the swing was wonderful. Apparently, the first step is pretty important.