Sermon “Dear Mother Nature”
Copyright Sarah K. Person
Delivered April 18, 2010 for Universalist Church of West Hartford, April 27, 2014 as amended for the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Middleboro
Sarah: I am proud to be one of your seven and a half billion human children on the planet.
- Acorn dropping.
- Beach sand shifting with the tide.
Sarah: Okay, so we are only one of 1,589,361 species that we know of. You must think we are fabulous. Why, there may be 10 or a 100 million species on the earth and we’ve got the biggest brains. Imagine that!
- Bird chirp.
- Bee buzz.
- Ocean wave travels across Atlantic
- Glacial ice
Sarah: Okay, my species is only 35,000 years old. But look how far we’ve come!!!
Sarah: Ahem, yes. We cannot take care of everyone. You cannot expect that all of us will thrive – you don’t take care of us, why should we? At least we try hardest to take care of those we think have a hope for a future, and can contribute to our great destiny.
Unison: Rain and snow on everyone.
Sarah: About that: Why are you not happy with us? We do our best, don’t we? And look, we have one natural disaster after another. Granted, they tend to be worse for poorer people. That’s too bad, really. I do not understand why bad things happen at all, one would think you are completely indifferent to all our achievements.
- Aurora borealis
- Great coral reef.
Sarah: Yes, of course, we know all about flora and fauna and tectonic plates and electromagnetic forces. And, yes, you can be beautiful, awe-inspiring, really. But you are not kind. You gave us our senses and our intellect so that we might appreciate you, but you made us so fragile. You could have done better. We are born and then we die; I mean really! Even the tiniest bacterium or virus can kill us!
Unison: White blood cells and platelets.
Sarah: Sure, we can heal ourselves, but not from something really bad. When something terrible happens, we have to help each other – and it might cost too much. You see, we have to save our money so we can make the deserving few comfortable, engage in intellectual pursuits, live longer, add variety to our lives, do everything faster and generally be fabulous. We can even fly!
- Volcano in Iceland;
- smoke and ash spewing up 55,000 feet.
- Suboceanic pressure released.
- Air travel at a standstill.
Unison: Beautiful sunsets.
Sarah: Now that was just nasty! You can be so inconvenient. We have tried for thousands of years to figure out how to make you nicer to us. Finally, we developed science to help us understand you and bend you to our will. You didn’t make us strong enough or fast enough, so we built machines to do that for us. We even built machines to think for us. You could even say we can do as much as you can. As a matter of fact, we do do what you do. And we do it in spite of you!
Sarah: We can change the landscape, too. We chop up hills to build safe roads for our speedy cars and trains. We build dams and take water from people in the country and send it to more deserving people in the city. We cut down forests and my favorite: we drain those pesky wetlands that are so full of mosquitoes.
Unison: food chain.
Sarah: Seriously, so we have a few less dragonflies. We can build pyramids that last for a thousand years and will be a marvel for generations to come.
Sarah: Well, whose fault is that?
Sarah: I’ll give you that one.
Unison: Crystalline formations. The double helix.
Sarah: Okay, so, small is good. We can split the atom. We can learn your secrets. We can generate awesome power.
- Spontaneous combustion.
Sarah: Hmm, we do tend to create things that glow in the dark, too. But we need more power – and anyway, your efforts have consequences too. We found radium, we didn’t create it.
Unison: Playing with fire
Sarah: Alright, there are quite a few things we could have left alone. But we need more power. We just haven’t figured out how to handle the leftover poison. I know, I know. You just have to rub it in, don’t you. “Since 1750 we’ve been creating noxious gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. They are altering the atmosphere and we’re all going to drown and ruin the earth.” You can be so tiresome.
Unison: (loud) Noxious gas
Sarah: I beg your pardon! You do not understand, it is very important that we maintain our style of life. We can’t do that and take care of you at the same time. Besides, there are so many great things we deserve, and we are in such a hurry to make improvements; even on you, Mother Nature. We deserve air-conditioning, gourmet food, eternal plastic, computer chips and chocolate, and we deserve them now!
Unison: Archeons. (AR-key-ons)
Sarah: Archeons? Let me look them up: “the most ancient of life forms, existing in the most extreme conditions of our planet – even boiling hot sulphurous water in the deepest trenches of our oceans.” So, what’s your point. Hmmm, successful creatures adapt to their environment. Well we can’t wait that long.
Sarah: Go ahead —You maintain a balance of creation. We can’t. You adapt. We don’t adapt; we want you to adapt instead. We want it warmer and colder and sturdier and prettier. Isn’t that why you gave us the biggest brains?
Sarah: Look, biggest brains, remember? So what if we are changing our habitat so fast that other creatures cannot keep up? Why, we are changing habitats so fast that even most humans cannot keep up.
Unison: Frog mutations and depletion
Sarah: You make it so hard; a lot of us humans do not survive, too – especially those without style.
- &2. Rumbling thunder,
3 & 4. epidemics
Sarah: You don’t understand, we need to be important and fabulous. What is your point? Yes, we’re taking away resources and generating waste; wasted food, waste gasses, wasted energy. I thought taking care of waste was your job. You can take care of us, right? I mean, survival of the fittest and all that; isn’t that one of your rules? And aren’t we the fittest? With the biggest brains?
- Stop whining
- Step up to the tectonic plate.
Sarah: You keep harping on evolution and extinction evolution and extinction. You’ve wiped out entire worlds of creatures; five times no less. What do you mean: It’s life that is important, not what lives? What does that mean? We’ll find out?
Unison: Dodo bird
Sarah: We have wiped out entire species because they tasted good and were easy to hunt. We were hungry! We’re the top of the food chain. And besides, we’ve got our manifest destiny to consider – we need to move!
- Giant cow parsley,
- dog strangling bush,
- oriental bittersweet,
- creeping jenny
Sarah: Come again?
- Spiny water flea,
- Asian long-horned beetle,
- brown marmorated stink bug,
- red imported fire ant
Sarah: Well, yes, in our travels we have introduced strange insects and plants to new ecosystems; and yes, things have died as a result. With you, there is evolution and extinction for a reason. With us, they tend to be accidents. We are really, really sorry and we are trying to fix that with affordable solutions. What, do I have to explain affordable?
- Restore balance.
- Make do with less
- Jaguar cough.
- Kookaburra laugh.
Sarah: This is funny? You are calling my terrain a toxic waste dump and I have to stop procrastinating and clean it up now. It isn’t really so bad, is it? We do want to be like you.
Unison: Nurse the strange infant with your own litter.
Sarah: What do you mean? Like, be kind? You are not kind. Why do we have to be? Oh, so we can survive. Well, since you put it that way. We have to be kind to everyone and everything? You’ve got to be kidding. Is this really worth it? How can we be important if we have to respect those who aren’t as powerful and important as we are?
Unison: The ant.
Sarah: What do you mean, the ant? We are all like ants? We are all like the ant? What, like part of a whole organism? Responsible for something so big we cannot see it all? I think I am going to be sick. I feel so small. I don’t feel like I can do anything anymore. I want to feel fabulous. How can an ant have an ipad before some other ant does?
Unison: Bigger brains, bigger hearts.
You’re saying bigger brains are useless without bigger hearts. What about my ipad?
- Acid rain.
- Manufacturing effluents.
- Poisoned groundwater
- Dying species.
Sarah: Okay, okay ipads are not important in the grand scheme of things. I must point out they are easier to acquire and more stylish than clean water.
- Enzyme reactions.
- Neurons firing.
- Dung beetles.
Sarah: I see. You like elegance and simplicity rather than brute force. I could do elegant and simple. It would mean working with you rather than in spite of you. I am not, however, giving up plastic. Okay, I can make plastic waste into something useful.
Unison: Stewardship of the Earth.
Sarah: Oh, for heaven’s sake, it’s not enough you’re getting me to clean my terrain, now you are asking me to change the way I think? With my fabulous big brain and my not-so-fabulous heart? Okay, okay, I promise I’ll try. Then you’ll give me back my ipad?
Unison: Glorious Technicolor Sunset.
Sarah: Thank you. You’re welcome, too.