I used to believe that God created the earth for humans, it’s primary purpose being a place for us to live and a means through which we learn about Him, but I’m not so sure anymore. It’s true that we often treat the land as if it was something that we are entitled to, something that we can own. I recently read the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, where the land of Narnia is “not Men’s country but it’s a country for man to be king of.” In my time at Act Five I’ve learned that there is an important difference between ruling and owning the earth.
In the beginning, the world was formless and void. God transformed it into the opposite by creating the forms of land, water and sky, and filling the void with plants, animals and humans. When it was all completed, God called it ‘very good’. We were created to be in the land, along with all other living creatures, participating in God’s victory over the void that used to be.
When humans brought brokenness into our relationship with God, it also broke our relationship with the land. The glory of this land that still praises God just by being a form is not something that we deserve to know and love. We deserve only the toil that has become a regular part of working in the land. In God’s goodness towards us, we have been given grace to explore and discover, to taste and see, the beauty of the land. I feel that the knowledge that is hidden in the soil underneath our feet is sacred, although I don’t quite understand what that means.
Since being home after finishing Act Five, I have made a habit of walking through the ravine woods close to my home. I feel there is something freeing about simply being among trees and rocks and dirt that allows me to be a human, without all the pressures that I often experience to meet or exceed expectations in order to be sufficient. It’s a feeling that reminds me of Solo day on the canoe trip and the retreat at Crieff Hills. Those times have been refreshing, allowing me to return to my life in the city with a better image of who I am, and perhaps closer to God.