Thursday, August 26, 2010
"We belong to the Earth"
By Dana Swanson
While waiting for my flight from Chicago to Seattle last week, I glanced down at the collection of buttons pinned to my backpack. The gentle profile of an Indian chief caught my eye. Next to him it read, “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.” I smiled when I realized to whom such noble words were attributed—Chief Seattle. Not only did the pin comfort me as I prepared to move 2,000 miles from home, the message affirmed the reason for the relocation.
I recently graduated from Augustana College (Rock Island, IL), with a degree is Sociology and English with an interest in Environmental Studies. Now that I’m done with college, I want to contribute, to engage with the world through more than exams and research papers. Therefore, I decided to venture out from the Midwest and complete a year of service with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I’ll be spending my LVC year in Seattle, WA, living in community with other volunteers, prioritizing simplicity and sustainability while working for social justice. As part of the justice component, I’ll be serving as the Outreach Coordinator at Earth Ministry. I’m thrilled to be a part of an organization like Earth Ministry that encourages environmental stewardship, mobilizing the faith community to act against the issues that are threatening creation.
Speaking of creation, I’d like to share a recent experience: the other morning, I thought I’d go for a run to check out the new neighborhood. After a few miles of running through blocks closely lined with houses, having to stop at intersections and with cars sporting “go green” bumper stickers zooming by, I stepped into a dense forest. In order to travel down the bluffs to the water, I jogged through the dusty pine needles, amongst the intensely green plants and beneath a thick canopy of trees. It was an odd sensation, to literally step from an urban environment into what could have been the depths of a wilderness preserve. When I came out of the forest into a clearing, I was affronted by the Olympic Mountains, jetting up into the clear morning sky, hovering amongst the clouds. The scene’s natural beauty—I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the stint of athletic activity—simply took my breath away.
As I retreated, I kept glancing over my shoulder, as if to check that the mountains were still there. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my lips, even as I ascended up the stairs. I look forward to a year of soaking up—in more ways than one, I’m told—all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. In addition, I am excited to enter into the conversation regarding the role of the faith community in shaping a sustainable future so that future generations can marvel at the jagged mountain ridges. For, in fact, the “Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.”