Even among committed Christians, it is sometimes awkward speaking openly of spiritual experiences. However, when I discovered that the burning bush is the symbol for this year’s Season of Creation, I felt impelled to break my silence.
For many years, I have believed that the Holy Spirit has “spoken” to me through nature, and especially through birds.
Birds often give me solace, including a wedge-tailed eagle after the violent death of a cousin; encouragement from black cockatoos at the closing of a Kairos Outside prison ministry weekend; affirmation from bulbuls outside my house in Dodoma after my arrival and upon my departure; and, countless other times to give joy in beholding the wonder of their colours and behaviour.
Even in my suburban courtyard, I am enthralled by the song of the grey butcherbird, the antics of a pair of magpie-larks in my birdbath and, if very lucky, the visit of a tawny frogmouth to spend the day in my tree.
This connection to nature compels me to care for God’s Creation – through tree-planting, education, letter writing, speaking and keeping vigil through prayer and marching. This year’s Season of Creation theme, “Listen to the Voice of Creation”, is so very timely.
I believe we are called to listen to the rustling of the leaves at the passing of mammals, such as the Atherton antechinus, mahogany glider, Daintree River ringtail possum, Lemuroid ringtail possum and the Herbert River ringtail possum, which are threatened by a warming climate.
And, to listen to the chatter of the spectacled flying fox as it spreads the pollen and seeds of the rainforest. To listen anxiously to the crackling of the fallen leaves on the rainforest floor as the endangered cassowary seeks food. Without these animals the rainforest will change inexorably.
To listen to the dying, falling and crashing of the trees as temperatures rise and rainfall changes.
To listen to the subtle sounds of the Great Barrier Reef, which provides a home for one of the most complex eco-systems in the world, including 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc, as well as for the dugong and large green turtle, which are threatened by extinction.
To listen to the roar of wildfires and to the silence of dry stream beds, heeding their message.
I believe we are called to listen to the scientists who have recorded the changes and alerted us for decades.
We need to listen to the Archbishop of Canterbury being the voice for vulnerable plants, trees, animals and millions of people living in poverty on the margins, as he calls for strong action on climate care.
God cares about His world: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24.1).
We need to listen to His voice.
As Anglicans, how will we listen and respond to the sound of God’s voice in His scripture and in His Creation, including through His scientists and faith leaders and the rest of the natural world?
Editor’s note: The Season of Creation starts on 1 September on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and ends on 4 October, which is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi. To find out about local Season of Creation events, please keep an eye on the anglican focus Events page.
Editor’s note 21/09/2022: Continue to listen to diverse voices speaking about Creation care, and much more, at On Earth festival on Saturday 8 October between 12 noon and 7pm on the beautiful grounds of St Francis College, Milton. Find out more and book online.Jump to next article