It isn’t all right. It never will be all right. And we do mind.

Recently my teenage son was doing some research on endangered species for school. He was shocked at his findings, not just that many species are even more endangered than 10 years ago, but that several species in that time have become extinct. He came into our kitchen where I was preparing supper and with tears in his eyes tried to express how he felt, particularly about the Western Black Rhino, a subspecies that is no more. He could barely get the words out, and was incoherent with rage and grief.

For a brief moment I nearly slipped into Mummy mode. You know, the glib sayings that trip lightly off our tongues when comforting children or others who are upset: ‘Never mind…   It’ll all be all right.’ Just in time I stopped myself. We’re right to mind. It isn’t all right. It never will be all right. And we do mind.

It’s appalling, the current rate of extinction. Whole species have disappeared, very recently. People often refer to the dodo or dinosaurs when considering extinction, but human activity is right now creating havoc in the natural world. We have lost over 50% of the populations of all animals in the last 40 years – in other words there is less than half the number of animals on the planet than there were when I was a child.

In the kitchen that evening all I could do is say ‘I know,’ and ‘Yes, it is terrible,’ and ‘I don’t know what to do, either.’ We looked at each other with tears in our eyes, and there was no comfort, except the acknowledgment that it is all right to grieve. In fact, it’s more than all right to grieve, it is the only proper response.

But we can’t just leave it there. If we are grieving for the state of our planet, then our Creator and Redeemer is grieving even more. But see what I did there? God is our Creator and our Redeemer. As God’s co-workers we need to act with God to bring redemption and hope to the world. This has traditionally been understood as purely about church and humans, but in Green Christian we believe that God is just as concerned with the integrity of creation. God asks us to protect and care for the whole of creation, a wonderful creation that was created in love, not just human beings.

And there lies hope. We are not alone in this work. Co-workers with God, we can and should ask God for guidance and help in our mission of Creation Care. And let’s be bold in spreading this gospel message, for the gospel is good news for all creation. We can’t save the dodo or the Western Black Rhino or the passenger pigeon or many other species which have already gone, but we can work together and with others (Christians and not) for the good of all creation, human and more-than-human, standing against oppression, injustice, exploitation, pollution, and greed.


7 comments on “It isn’t all right. It never will be all right. And we do mind.
  1. Angela Peebles says:

    Oh, how I agree with Debora Tomkins! Human greed and thoughtlessness is having a catastrophic effort on the natural world all over the planet. As a result of global warming we are losing habitats everywhere: modern farming methods are decimating wildlife, islands in the Pacific will soon be uninhabitable as they are overwhelmed by rising sea levels; rainforest is being lost with drastic consequences; people are starving as a result of war and/or drought; housing growing populations is becoming more and more difficult and constantly taking more of the world’s landmass – the list is endless!

    We can all be more thoughtful, and help care more for the whole of Creation – not just exotic wildlife but in our own corner of God’s Earth, creating small havens for wildlife in our own gardens, and following the excellent Living Churchyards project set up by the Wildlife Trusts around the country, and the charity Caring for God’s Acre, to nurture and cherish our churchyards, and celebrate their beauty, bio-diversity and amazing wealth of Heritage.

  2. Linda Wickham says:

    Thank you, Deborah, for sharing this with us, and for your son for prompting it. As you say, we should grieve, but we also need to be active and to get the message out there. I feel the same as you and your son, but am inspired and uplifted that people like yourselves and others in GC care as well.

  3. Deborah says:

    Thank you both, Angela and Linda, for your thoughtful comments. Let’s keep encouraging each other and others. Deborah

  4. anthony roper says:

    When I was young I grew up with a ‘rough’ uncultivated field outside my garden and beyond that a large playing field. Every year a skylark nested in that field. I would often listen to its song and barely see it high in the sky. With its numbers drastically reduced I wonder how many children have ever heard the skylark’s song! It makes me feel sad.It has produced a strong feeling of me being part of nature!

    • Deborah says:

      Thank you Tony. It seems more important than ever to try and give children something of your experience – Forest Schools, camping, walking, gardening and so on. We ARE part of nature, but so many people don’t understand that.

  5. Amanda says:

    Dear author,
    Deborah, thank you for this post! I am a Christian student in the United States currently working on a paper regarding Christians and the environment. I was wondering if I could cite your article in my paper? With you full name and permission. Thank you for your time!
    -Amanda
    Florida, USA

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