Our House Is on Fire

By Sue Carson 

This September we celebrate the fifth Season of Creation, a five-week segment of the church year when we focus on our planet.  I wonder if five weeks is long enough to acknowledge our beautiful world. 

For me, the Season of Creation starts with the arrival of the first snowdrop and ends with the fall of the last red maple leaf. The mystery of winter also belongs to creation; it is the time of rejuvenation and healing so the yearly miracle of life can begin again. 

The Gospel reading for September 5 tells of Jesus healing ordinary people—the daughter of a gentile woman and a deaf man. The first was someone of a different race and Jesus questioned why he should heal the daughter, but mother had the courage to tell Him that she deserved at least the crumbs under the table.  

If ever there were a time when healing was needed, it must be now; healing for a world heading towards climate disaster.  

Sir David Attenborough believes that the world could heal itself if we would only put on the brakes and let her take care of things herself. The time for gentle words is over and the new generation, like Greta Thunberg, are going to have to speak louder and answer back to those in authority as the Syrophoenician woman did.  

Greta’s words to the world leaders at Davos, “our house is on fire,” have become poignantly true to the residents of Lytton, British Columbia, with the images of a charred town so fresh in our minds from this summer. One survivor spoke on TV about his town being the canary in the coal mine; “we need to open our eyes to climate change,” he said. 

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

We have been aware that climate change has been happening in hotter, less-developed countries. But even in our diocese there have been floods and unusual weather patterns; our predictable world is now off-kilter. 

The International Panel on Climate Change announced in 2018 that we had twelve years to completely change our lifestyles to delay the dangers of weather-related incidences.  Two lost years because of COVID have increased the urgency, so there are only ten years left.   

Yet for the advertising media, post-pandemic means more cruises, plane rides, and shopping—all things that will exacerbate climate change. There is a feeling that COVID-19 cheated us out of our holidays and the life we deserve, but the world and the creatures who share this planet have been cheated by our desire to consume and travel.   

The gentile woman fought back when Jesus refused her request to heal her child. Mothers around the world are crying out for help for their offspring. How many times do the mothers in Grassy Narrows have to tell us that their children have mercury poisoning? The cries from mothers in Africa remind us that their land is parched, and their children are starving.  

In Canada there are people, like the deaf man, who are unable to speak for themselves: the elderly living without air conditioning; the poor finding that food prices are rising because of droughts in California; many hundreds dying from the heat in the western provinces. 

David Attenborough said that “what we do in the next ten years will profoundly impact the next few thousand.” Will the toppled statues in one-hundred-years’ time be Albertan oil wells? Will future young people ask: “why was climate change allowed to happen in the twenty-first century?” 

This Season of Creation, please give the Earth time to heal by treading more gently in every aspect of your life. Advocate for those abroad who are crying out for help and be the voice to those in our society who can’t speak for themselves.