By Rajmund Dabrowski

Just like the Seneca,
I have lost my place.
And where I’ve been planted now, Soon will be shakin’ . . .
Too soon tomorrow will come.
—Brewer and Shipley

Sidewalk encounter

A family of four walked out of a store. It just happened that I caught up with them as they crossed the street toward their parked car. The father tore up a receipt, I assumed, and threw it on the sidewalk. In a split second, I could not help but to approach him and say, “Sir, I think you dropped something.”

His reaction stunned me. He bent over and picked up the smithereens while the family watched. Then smiling, he reacted, saying, “Thank you. Yes, these were mine. I am sorry.”

Even today, I reflect that his reaction was one of many he could have chosen. Our city was saved from the wind carrying the trash in odd directions. The lesson, I conclude, was most useful to his two young kids.

Living in a culture of consumerism and junk, many of us have views on why our neighborhoods are littered with trash. We may recall being scolded by parents when throwing an apple core on the ground. To be forgiven once did not mean avoiding being lectured in the future about keeping a clean environment and the consequences of disobedience.

Diploma for recycling

My unforgotten moment of environmental conscience happened in grade school. It all goes back some 60 years to the streets of downtown Warsaw when I visited local editorial and printing establishments to solicit donations of print paper to be thrown away. Today, a reminder hangs on the wall—a diploma signed by a principal and a PTA president. It states that I am commended for “very good results in collecting paper recyclables for the school year 1960-1961.” Nostalgia is taking me to the day when in front of the entire school I was singled out for such an accolade. It feels good, though.

Clearing the ruins

The second reminder of my personal environmental activism is a high school experience a few years later when our class of 35 participated in a “civic duty” day challenging us to clean the rubble of a ruined Krasinski Square in Warsaw, a reminder of WWII. I recall getting involved once a month and picking up bricks and loading barrels with dirt. Walking by the square several years later, I was proud to have had a little part in making the city beautiful again.

Caring for Mother Earth

Today, it’s not so much clearing the ruins of a post-war destroyed city. It’s about halting global warming, battling for clean air and unpolluted water. It’s about protecting the forests, wetlands, or a disappearing rare animal species. It’s also about saying no to unquenched exploitation of earth’s resources, unbridled over-consumption and production of waste. It’s about being inspired by a teenager, Greta Thun- berg, or a stalwart protector of animals, Jane Goodall, or vice president Al Gore. Their messages are as challenging as the call of scores of environmental scientists, going through our daily activities to protect the clean and tidy surroundings, caring for God’s planet, our Mother Earth.

Beautiful temples

Never to be forgotten was a conversation with Caridad del Rosario Diego Bello, director of Havana’s Office of Religious Affairs, during a trip to Cuba with the Maranatha Volunteers International team. She remarked that when you see a beautiful, freshly-painted building in one of our towns, it is a Seventh-day Adventist temple.

It should make us proud to see our churches well looked after, no matter whether you see them in Africa, Asia or America. And hopefully it should make us cringe to see the unkempt lawns and peeling paint of a church sign, or plastic bags blown against a church wall.

Seventh-day Adventists are not called to passively wait till the end of the world. Along with scores of our fellow humans, we can conclude that it is man who is destroying the world by his irresponsibility toward the earth and its inhabitants. Yet, we recognize that the end will come about by the direct intervention of a supernatural force. We are reminded, again and again: “The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroy- ing the destroyers of the earth” (Revelation 11:18, ESV).

God created beautiful people for a beautiful earth. When God created, He liked what He saw. He “placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it.” So, what are we admonished to do today?

–Rajmund Dabrowski is RMC communication director and editor of Mountain Views. Email him at: [email protected]