Seeing as God Sees
God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Do you remember spitting watermelon seeds as a kid? Taking a big bite out of a delicious, red juicy watermelon; moving the seeds first to the side and then the front of your mouth; pressing them against the back of your teeth with your tongue while you swallowed the good stuff, and then curling your tongue around the tiny black teardrop and blowing?
I have been asking children whether they know how to spit watermelon seeds -- at a recent wedding rehearsal, on the playground after school, in the park near my house. Nothing. My own son remembers eating a watermelon with seeds in it “a couple of years ago.” How about you? When is the last time you spit a watermelon seed?
|Photo credit: Creative Commons|
Today, only 16 percent of watermelons sold in grocery stores have seeds. Many people today don't even know that watermelons have seeds, let alone how to spit them. Recently developed hybrids do not need seeded melons for pollination. The iconic, black-studded watermelon wedge is disappearing; and with it, creation’s own power to produce new life.
In the beginning “God saw everything that God had made, and it was very good.” The world is good, yes, but “the goodness of the world,” writes Ellen Davis, “is presented not as simple fact, nor even as an authoritative pronouncement, but as a divine perception.” And Genesis invites us to “see like God;” to notice the earth itself possesses a fruitfulness, a sustainable fecundity that perpetuates life. And, by extension, to think about whether and how we dare interrupt that for our own convenience.
Philosopher Erazim Kohák suggests the root of our ecological crisis is chiefly a failure to perceive what is good. This Lent look attentively. What do you notice? What goodness will you work to preserve? What goodness will you seek to restore?
Creator God, enable us to see the earth as you see it, as good—even where it is fallen—and to imagine what we can do as a part of this good creation to serve and preserve the goodness that you mean the earth to embody.
The Rev. Jeff Geary is the Senior Pastor of the White Plains Presbyterian Church, a progressive multiracial, urban earth-care congregation in the Bronx River Watershed of New York. When he is not working, studying or parenting he can be found long distance hiking, biking and rock climbing—anything to be close to creation.