Happy Earth Day! Here are five easy things you can do, either alone with or with your family, to appreciate the gifts of our Heavenly Father’s creation.
1. The Fruitful Field
There’s a tradition of farming and gardening in the Church. From Jacob’s Olive Tree Allegory to President Hinckley’s Walnut Tree, our faith is rooted (pun intended) in literal and spiritual planting.
Church leaders have encouraged growing gardens to further self-reliance, but growing plants can also serve as a source of beauty. You may not be able to grow a floral display like those on Temple Square, but everyone has space to grow something. The Church has published some handy materials on how to nurture your own little patch of earth.
2. Consider the Ravens
In Luke 12, Jesus taught his followers to “consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?”
Birds might not have houses, but that can change. Putting a bird-feeder near your home is an easy way to show a little appreciation for nature, and is a relaxing, rewarding reminder of our Heavenly Father’s care for each living thing.
And who knows? If you consider the ravens, they might consider you:
3. Consider the Lilies
We may not have to trek from Nauvoo to Utah, but simply walking can be a time to receive insights from nature and from the world we live in. Elder M. Russell Ballard said:
“To truly reverence the Creator, we must appreciate his creations. We need to plan to take time to observe the marvels of nature. Today, we can easily become surrounded by brick buildings and asphalt surfaces that shelter us from real life around us. Plan to share with your family the miracle of buds changing to fragrant blossoms. Take time to sit on a hillside and feel the tranquility of the evening when the sun casts its last golden glow over the horizon. Take time to smell the roses.”
4. All Creatures of Our God and King
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given dominion over animals. In the Law of Moses, the Lord commanded the Israelites not to muzzle oxen, overstrain farm animals, or even destroy birds’ nests.
In our day, the call to have both dominion over and compassion towards animals continues. While hunting and fishing are still enjoyed by members of the Church (we are counseled not to waste flesh or hunt for sport), kindness towards domestic animals has been given special emphasis in the latter days. President Joseph F. Smith wrote:
“Kindness to the whole animal creation and especially to all domestic animals is not only a virtue that should be developed, but is the absolute duty of mankind. …
It is an unrighteous thing to treat any creature cruelly.”
Volunteering at a local animal shelter is both a great service project for you and your friends and family and a way to show responsible “dominion” over our fellow creatures on earth.
5. I’ll Walk with You
Whether it’s to work, church, school or any other activity, there are lots of opportunities to carpool and ride-share. In addition to saving gas money and other vehicle costs, public transportation and traveling with others can help reduce air pollution. Asthmatics will thank you!
On top of that, carpooling and taking public transportation is also a great way to meet people with whom you wouldn’t otherwise associate. Lots of returned missionaries can attest to the effectiveness of talking with strangers on buses and trains. Give it a try!
Do you have any other Earth Day or environmental traditions? Let us know in the comments!