Outback/Wilderness Sunday

Connecting with Creation: Hearing the Groans

When we think of the outback/wilderness we tend to connect with the desert, the wild and exotic world far from the so-called civilised domains of Earth. We also tend to think of the outback/wilderness as vast areas of red sand or rugged landscape with relatively few obvious forms of life.

The outback/wilderness is just as alive with dynamic creatures as the rainforest or country streams. And the outback/wilderness is just as vulnerable to the destructive forces at work in the cities of our planet. Especially destructive are the long-term outcomes of the greenhouse effect and the holes in the ozone layer. Even wild worlds that we may never see are threatened by these abuses of our planet.

Yet, for selfish economic reasons, most governments have refused to take action to limit the use of fossil fuels, reduce global warming, eliminate pollutants that deplete the ozone layer and poison the land with radioactive waste. The climate of the planet is already beginning to change radically; something needs to be done now to change the way we use energy resources and so avoid a massive crisis in the future.

One of the ways of connecting with Earth as creation groaning under the weight of human abuses is to visit a desecrated site or a location that has been denuded and defiled. A space may also be created to simulate the violation of the planet by radioactive fallout or waste.

Potential locations include a piece of land where vegetation is dying because of salination, where micro forms of life are dying due to radioactive residue and waste or where fauna is dying because of air pollutants. This is a piece of land where Earth is suffering.

We Westerners are usually not as sensitive to the anguish of Earth as indigenous peoples. Yet we are invited to hear creation groaning. The group may first sit in silence and hear the impact of that silence, the silence of soil and species that have lost their voices.

One way of becoming more sensitive is for members of the group to speak for Earth. Each participant, using the voice of Earth, may begin with lines such as:

‘I feel the salt rising through my flesh and burning my skin…’
‘I am sad when the voice of the tree frog disappears…’
‘My soul burns when nuclear waste is dumped within me…’
‘My spirit weeps when the ozone layer cannot protect my family…’
‘I groan because…’

We need to remember also that the groaning of Earth is not a pathetic hopeless cry. Earth’s groaning anticipates a day when these curses will be removed and the planet will be healed, restored to life. So the participants may continue:

‘I groan because I hope that soon…’
‘I groan like a mother with birth pangs as I wait for…’
‘I groan with God’s spirit in anticipation of a restored creation where…’
‘I groan with humans sensitive to the day when…’

The group may wish to close with the song ‘Song of Healing’ in Habel Hymns One, the final verse of which reads:

Healing is rising, free in Christ’s body,
healing is flowing, free with Christ’s blood.
May this deep healing pulse through our bodies,
heal the world’s wounds still bleeding and red.
Melody: Morning Has Broken