Rogation Days and Earth Day
Eastertide is a time to celebrate the earth. On the Christian calendar, the three days before the Ascension are Rogation Days. In 2014 that will be May 26 – 28. Rogation Sunday will be May 25th, (the sixth Sunday of Easter, or the fifth Sunday after Easter). Mark your calendars!
Historically, especially in England, Rogation days were a time when the people asked for protection of the harvest and beat the bounds of the parish (walking the boundaries of the parish).
In this same season, on our secular calendar we recently had Earth Day on April 22. It is a time to take stock of many things related to our planet and ourselves. Each year earthday.org offers us initiatives on which to focus and programs to help us. For example, Green Cities is one featured project for this year. Also, The Canopy Project is working toward planting a billion trees worldwide.
Focusing on our Connection to Creation
Whether you celebrate Rogation Days, or Earth Day, or both, the questions are the same: What can we do at home to learn more about the earth and our relationship to it? Where I live, I have space to compost; my community makes recycling paper, glass, and plastic very easy; we have farmers’ markets year ‘round so we can eat wonderful food from within a 50 mile radius all the time.
As people of faith, how can we stay connected to the earth and teach our children to do the same? Look around. Where are the closest farms? Can you buy directly from them? Do you have space to plant a few of your favorite vegetables? There is nothing quite like walking past a tomato plant and popping a warm, fresh cherry tomato (or several) into your mouth, or picking a tomato just before you add it to your sandwich or salad. Or maybe your favorites are cucumbers, or lettuces. All of these, along with your favorite herbs can be grown in a big pot if you are really tight for space and time. Just the process of choosing the seeds or seedlings and making a watering schedule is a learning opportunity. All generations love to watch seeds sprout and grow.
The communities around us also offer opportunities for learning. Are your children curious about where the trash goes? Does your community offer recycling and composting? Do you know where your water comes from? Does your building code require water conserving faucets and toilets?
Stories of Local Impact
Some years ago, a group of middle school students in our town decided that they wanted the town to ban styrofoam cups and food containers, particularly in fast food places. The EPA had recently announced that foam products accounted for 28% of the ozone-depleting potential of chlorofluorocarbons. The students did their research, presented their proposal, and the Town Council listened. The ban was passed! That was in 1990.
Conservation can also start at home, and children are often excited to help. When I look at the pictures of the drought areas in our country today, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have such a stable water supply. I try hard to remember to do the little things like turning off the faucet while I brush my teeth or wash my dishes.
What arouses your passion when you think about your relationship with our planet? Every time we make a little change to be more aware and careful, we make a difference for the future. During the 50 days of Eastertide, how many little things can you do? Which ones will become regular habits?
Elizabeth Ring is a consultant for Lifelong Learning and Leadership Development. She served for 27 years as Director of the Maine Diocesan Resource Center managing the collection of materials, leading workshops and training events, and assisting with Diocesan Convention. She blogs at pebblesinapond.wordpress.com.