Considering polar vortices followed closely by 50 degree days and February thunderstorms, it's been a good couple of weeks to consider the transitory nature of ice. Ice has been in the news, in the air, on the street, covering the sidewalk, on our roofs and in our rain gutters, and piled up on the shores of Lake Michigan. But almost as quickly as it was created, it has also disappeared within the last few days, perhaps a cautionary tale to pay attention to.
Ice is truly a miracle of nature. With the right conditions, it can form high in the atmosphere as tiny crystals which, when drawn together, become the snowflakes that blanket and beautify our winter wonderlands just as they surely complicate our daily routines. Who among us, while hiking the trails or lounging on the beaches of our beloved nearby Indiana Dunes, cannot be struck with a sense of awe at the incredible power of the ancient glaciers that carved the lands, bulldozing the soil and rocks before them, and leaving behind the largest and most magnificent fresh-water lakes on earth.
Like most of you, I've been taking ice for granted for most of my life. With electricity and refrigeration, we didn't have to worry about not having ice when we needed it, and more importantly, we didn't need to concern ourselves about polar ice caps and glaciers and how their gradual disappearance might impact the world our grandchildren will be encountering. But I fear those days are behind us. These days, you don't need to listen to scientists, you can draw your own conclusions just by calling up images and charts on your computer and seeing for yourself the shrinking world of arctic ice compared to what it looked like just 10 or 20 years ago. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, nearly 70 percent of the Earth's fresh water exists as ice within the frozen ice caps of Greenland and the Antarctic, and as those caps continue to melt, the impacts on the populations living near the coastlines of the world will be catastrophic. Here in North America, we can say goodbye to the entire states along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf Coast.
I for one would like to see Christians do more to stop taking ice for granted. With its new policy entitled "The Earth is the Lord's," recently approved by the General Assembly, the PCUSA seems to be trying to lead Presbyterians towards the right side of history. As extreme weather events continue to occur with increasing frequency around the world, I suspect that more and more Christians will be seeking to understand the Bible's message on stewardship of the earth.
With a relatively new publication entitled "The Green Bible" (originally published in 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers, and easily purchased via Amazon), Christians have a readily available resource to study scriptures with an eye to the new environmental realities of the world as it exists today. The Green Bible is a version of the New Revised Standard Version Bible with a focus on environmental issues and teachings. I especially like the introductory essays by several noted Biblical scholars including Dr. N.T. Wright, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Pope John Paul II. In his essay, Pope John Paul II states "Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past."
So as the thermometer outside dips low again as we continue to make progress towards the eagerly anticipated fresh green shoots of springtime, let's remember that when "God saw that his creation was good," he was including the miracle of ice and snow.