My recent heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery have reminded me about the importance of caring for all of creation, including our bodies.
Even with the limited exposure that I’ve had to the outdoors in recent weeks, it is apparent that spring is currently making its presence known.
Jonquils are in bloom, redbuds are starting to bud, and a number of wildflowers are emerging.
It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get out and photograph the wonders of early spring this year, but I still find much comfort and joy in the return of spring – a time of renewal and restoration.
After winter’s cold and darkness, spring gives us hope of better days to come. It brings the promise of longer days, rising temperatures and an explosion of color.
This year, I find myself looking at spring differently. Due to my health issues, I see myself not only as an observer of spring but also as a participant in the cycle of spring.
Like the world of nature, my body is going through a period of renewal and restoration. Following surgery, my body is going through a season of healing.
Although I still have a bit of pain and discomfort, I live with the hope of better days to come.
Viewing myself as a participant of spring has caused me to also do some thinking about being a part of creation itself.
Even though we don’t admit it often, humans are as much a part of creation as the flowers, birds, trees and rivers around us are. We owe our existence to God.
One biblical writer declared that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). It would be difficult for someone to debate that truth.
Like everything else, we were made by God and for God. Like the rest of creation, God made us in such a way that we can fulfill our divine purpose. God made our bodies so that we can be and do what God planned for us.
I write often about the need for us to be good stewards of God’s creation. What a lot of us may have forgotten is that our own bodies are a part of that creation and that we must be good stewards of them, too.
I confess that I have not been a very good steward of my own body. I have failed to eat right, exercise properly and get the rest my body needed.
When I had the episode with my heart a few weeks ago, I did not ask, “Why me?” I knew it was my own fault. I had no one to blame but myself.
I had not been a very good steward of the one part of creation that I have the most control over and I paid the price.
This experience has reminded me that there is always a price to be paid when we fail to be good stewards of God’s creation. The earth or we, ourselves, invariably suffer.
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is a good example of how failure to be good stewards can lead to sickness or death.
Elsewhere rivers and lakes, even the oceans, are also being polluted and that pollution is causing ill effects for plants and animals and humans alike.
There are countless examples of ways we have failed the earth and now we are paying the price. We simply cannot treat the earth any way we please and not expect there to be some very serious repercussions.
My current health issues have helped me to see anew the importance of being a good steward of all aspects of God’s creation.
There is a very good chance I would not be alive today if a team of doctors had not intervened and performed the surgery I needed.
In the same way, plants and animals, whole ecosystems and, yes, even fellow human beings, may well die if we do not intervene. May God help us all to intervene where and when we can.
Chuck Summers is a pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henderson, Kentucky. He is also a photographer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines and calendars; he has published three photography books. A version of this article first appeared on Seeing Creation, a blog that Summers co-authors with Rob Sheppard, and is used with permission.