Earth Day, Good Friday, and the Intersections of Bettering Yourself

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Spring! Easter! Rebirth! Earth Day! Blossoms! Seedlings! Green and growing things!

I’m not sure I can even express my enthusiasm for nature right now. The photo above is my tiny little peach tree in gorgeous bloom. The seeds that I planted April 1st are poking up out of the ground, turning into romaine and spinach and mesclun and swiss chard. My tulips are opening. The sun is shining as I write this, and it feels like a perfect coincidence that it’s Good Friday and Earth Day.

Maybe not everyone would agree on that. I’m sure that Good Friday means different things to different people. To me, the most important thing about Good Friday and Easter are remembering God’s ultimate gift to us — the sacrifice of His Son. He died that we can all be renewed (reborn, changed, bettered), the way we experience the renewal of spring, and to me Earth Day fits.

My kids are out of school yesterday, today, and Monday for a long weekend around Easter, and on Wednesday when my oldest came home from kindergarten, I asked if they’d done anything in class about Earth Day.

“Earth Day?” he asked. (Evidently the answer to my question was no.) “What’s Earth Day?”

“Well,” I said, thinking through how to put it in six-year-old terms (because Parenting 101 teaches you to translate all answers to age-level lingo), “Earth Day is when we celebrate all the beautiful things God put on the earth, like flowers and trees and animals.”

In my head I knew that wasn’t quite PC. Earth Day isn’t a religious holiday. But sometimes the kid translation of things comes out even better than the adult version. Why shouldn’t environmentalism and religion go together?

BUT . . . here’s my big confession. Up until recently I feel like I just paid lip service to both. I mean, I believed in both, and I did all the basic things that were asked of me, like recycling and going to church, but I didn’t have as strong of a conviction as I wanted to. I wasn’t going “above and beyond” with either one — just sort of meeting the minimum requirements, you know?

What’s amazed me the past few months is discovering how once you begin striving to improve one aspect of your life, it runs over into so many other aspects as well.

Six months ago when I suddenly became hyper-aware of how much everything I put in or on my body affects my health, I started to learn as much as I could about nutrition. I soon gravitated toward “whole foods,” “real foods,” and “traditional foods” — my gut instinct telling me that if God created us, He probably also created perfect sources of food for us.

And what I’ve found in this “real food” community has been nothing short of beautiful. I read blogs by people of various religious denominations who all want the same goals: health, sustainability, and spirituality.

I had never realized how absolutely intertwined the three could be and are until I started down this nutrition journey and ended up feeling  “above and beyond” in all three.

For example, by striving to eat the produce that’s currently in season where I live, for the health benefits of its freshness, I cut down on the fossil fuels necessary to drive my meals to my city, but I also find my thoughts turning to God more as I contemplate how my food is grown, astonished at the intricacies of the nutrients in each vegetable and fruit and the way they harmonize.

Instead of just recycling, I’m now also reusing and reducing: I use glass jars that come from marinara sauce and coconut oil and so on, wash them out, and use them for homemade yogurt and other products that I now make myself instead of buying, thus reducing the amount of plastic containers I buy and recycle while also cutting out preservatives.

A neighbor of mine mentioned that she prays over her seeds in her garden, and I’ve started to do that too, feeling that absolute connection between the seed, the earth, and the God who watches over all — and my own connectedness to all of it.

What’s more, I find that as my dependence grows on all three — nutrition, the environment, and God — my conviction of each is so much stronger. I depend on wholesome, toxin-free food, which has increased my awareness of the farmers around me and taught me that a big part of sustainability is supporting them and encouraging them to grow organically. I’m no longer just doing the minimum by wheeling my recycling can to the curb each week; I’m seeking out more ways to buy locally and protect the foods and the land and the animals God created. And as I continue to try and work through my health issues via nutrition, I find myself praying more fervently for God to give me direction, and noticing more constantly how much He does.

Today we remember God’s ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. It was His biggest gift of all, and I believe it’s a fitting time to remember His other gifts as well. As my appreciation for the wonders of nature increases, so does my remembrance of God.

Earth Day, at least at our house, is going to be a religious holiday from now on.

How did you celebrate Earth Day or honor Good Friday? What are your feelings about nutrition, environmentalism, and religion?

Leave a comment!

p.s. some awesome related reading for those interested:

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2 responses »

  1. Awesome as always. I’ve never thought about combining the two holidays like that, but it makes perfect sense to me. Thanks for opening a new view for me and expanding my appreciation of both. 🙂

    Like

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