Earth, Faith, Conscience

I call it my adopted spot and hope that I can fulfill the promise I made. Back on a Spring day earlier this year I clambered down a hill that buttressed the old C&O Canal towpath near the remains of the canal's Williamsport aquaduct. I discovered a long and low stretch of land where the Conococheague Creek (Indian name, can you tell?) flows into the great Potomac River.

The curving bank along which land and water meet is both a place of both natural beauty and depressing apathy. The natural beauty is accentuated by a small island in the Potomac just upstream of the junction of creek and river. The horror is the paper, bait, fast food sacks, angler's wire and other undesirable pollution that those who frequent this popular fishing area see fit to deposit there.

I was rewarded that day with spiritual refreshment afforded by the place's peace and beauty. I wanted to make a statement of concern and thankfulness. I decided that for a period of a month or two I would come by about everyother day and do what I could to clean up. Well I kept my promise and did some good.

It is amazing what people leave behind when they have been fishing. Bait containers (sometimes with rotting bait left in them), fishing line (that's real fun to wrangle up), food wrapers, plastic and paper bags, I even found a fishing pole once. And most ubiquitous of all glass. Broken, chipped, tiny, large, pushed-into-the-soil (so as not to injur others' feet) and (most notably sharp) glass...everywhere.

For the next couple months I went down there sometimes 4 and 5 times a week. The exception was the week the river flooded. Remember that? I think it was sometime in May. Then, around the first of July, I stopped. I'd like to think I stopped going because my arbitrary time was up; but I think I really stopped because no matter how much I did, stuff kept coming back. Especially the glass! At least the stuff that was there was all clean, newer stuff...not quite so disgusting...but stuff nonetheless.

I'm not sure what motivated me to return to the spot a couple weeks ago, but I'm glad it did. This time I had a different attitude. This time I took a chair and a book...a meditation book. I perched at a waterfront spot near an old Maple Tree with a good view of the island in the Potomac. I read a meditation and then prayer a little. After this I got up with bag and glove in hand and began what I'll call a "cleansing ritual."

Before picking up a piece of trash or glass or "gosh know's what" I would repeat a little saying (or mantra as they are called). "The earth brings us into life and nourishes us. The earth takes us back again. We are born and we die with every breath." The mantra

reminded me of our connection to the earth and all things and of how we are all connected. Then I put my hand down and touch the earth at that spot. I stand, move to the next piece of trash and repeat the process over and over.

This time I have limited my area to a little 20X 20 spot. I do the same space everytime and leave the rest go. And I want to do this about three times a week for about three months. There is a difference this time though. I'm hoping that the result comes from a less with more approach.

I'm doing a smaller area and less frequently, but I'm doing it spiritually. There is the difference. By cleaning a small area with reverent consciousness I am hoping that not only cleaning but blessing will result. I hoping that the blessing I bring to one small spot may rub off and motivate others to do likewise. Does that sound crazy or like a long shot, or does it sound like faith. Time may tell. I'll keep you posted.

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