We believe that we can be agents of change, as individuals and churches. There are so many good people and organisations talking about practical solutions to the world’s problems. Just for a change, let’s give ourselves permission to think smaller, simpler, and less practically.
Hilary Blake has thought of six completely impractical ways to change the world. She is going to write about them, one a week, over the summer. Here’s the first:
I started saying hello to lots more creatures when I was trying to teach my son not to be scared of spiders. We would say, ‘Hello Spider, I’m just going to move you off the playmat and find you somewhere nice to play outside.’
I realised that it’s a good thing for anyone of any age to do, to another person or an animal, or a plant, or anything really. When we say hello, we say, “Here we are, we’re sharing this space. You’re here and I’m here and we’re connected.”
Too often we have ignored or denied that connection.
Try and find out the other thing’s name. If we know someone else’s name it’s a step towards seeing their point of view, and caring about them, having a relationship.
For example, a couple of years ago I participated in Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count. I learned the difference between a honey bee and a white-tailed bumblebee. Suddenly I saw that gardens, parks and verges were alive with a diversity of insects that I’d never recognised.
You could do something similar by learning to identify trees, wildflowers, birdsong or even types of clouds. It’s not about becoming an expert – every name is a new connection to the natural world. Just a handful of them brings a new richness to our experience. (There are also apps available that make it easier than ever to identify things, such as the Woodland Trust’s Tree ID app.)
Climate change is a symptom of broken relationships. So is water pollution, air pollution, soil erosion. They all go back to not acknowledging the relationship we have with one another, animals, earth and air. Perhaps the simplest way to nod to those relationships is to say hello.