Faith Forum: What can this weekend’s farm tour teach us about God’s creation?

The Rev. Kent Winters-Hazelton, senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway:

A recent public service announcement asked a series of haunting questions, such as: “What if you had to choose between the water buffalo and the giraffe, between fresh air or clean water?”

At first hearing the questions are stunning. They capture our attention because they are both beyond the possible and yet alarmingly real. Once they rattle around in our brain for a while, these questions raise awareness about the future of our global home. With rising concerns about greenhouse gases, raising sea waters and climate change, slowly a healthier and better understanding of our interrelationship with nature is emerging. After several generations where the dominant position posited that the resources of the planet were there for our use and ultimate spoliation — even among those who taught and practiced religious faith — perhaps the tide has begun to change.

The Kaw Valley Farm Tour is a wonderful opportunity to explore further how our lives are sustained by resources of the Earth. Seeing first hand the importance of conservation, our intricate tie to the soil, water and air, and the modern technologies of farming, we become more fully aware of and committed to the survival of God’s creation for us and for peoples across the planet.

In the Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Scriptures we are told, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for the Lord has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.”

— Send e-mail to Kent Winters-Hazelton at fpcpastor@sunflower.com.

Judy Carman, author of “Peace to All Beings,” and co-author of “The Hidden Power of Our Kinship with Animals,” Lecompton:

The Kaw Valley Farm Tour takes place this weekend. What a beautiful way to celebrate and feel true gratitude for the fall harvest. In a lovely coincidence it happens that Oct. 2 is Gandhi’s birthday, and St. Francis Day is Oct. 4. Both Gandhi and St. Francis radiated joy and love, because they were so in tune with God’s creation. They experienced a sense of kinship with all life and endeavored to teach tenderness, reverence, compassion and complete nonviolence toward all creatures.

On the farm tour we will see God’s bountiful gifts of food. One seed can grow a plant that offers us not only baskets of nourishing food in myriad forms and vivid colors, but also seeds to grow more food year after year. How beautiful and miraculous — just to be a witness to the bounty of food we will see on the tour is enough to experience the Divine mystery of God’s love for us all.

At some of the farms on the tour, we will also see animals. When we look into their eyes with open hearts, we can see the wonder of God’s creation. We can witness the extraordinary grace, beauty, individuality and sensitivity of each animal and recognize what kindred spirits they are to us. Every child knows how thrilling it is to be near them and maybe even to touch them.

As we tour the farms and celebrate the gifts of God’s gardens and the wonder of God’s creatures, let us consider the wisdom Gandhi and St. Francis discovered. Gandhi devoted his life to nonviolence toward all living beings, and St. Francis was known as the patron saint of the animals. He strove to imitate his beloved Jesus in all that he did. They taught us that the animals are our spiritual brothers and sisters — part of the Divine family created by God and that they were not created for us to dominate, exploit for monetary gain or kill. Animals are here for their own reasons — to raise their families, to run and play, to be free to do what they were born to do, to love and to live. Teachers of many faiths have taught that we human beings cannot achieve peace and nonviolence for our species until we extend it to all God’s creation. Living nonviolently draws us closer to the heart of God.

— Send e-mail to Judy Carman at judycarman@ymail.com.

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