It never ceases to amaze me how Lidija, a dear friend of mine, can turn garbage into works of art. As a volunteer, she runs a day center called Koraci (Steps) and organizes art workshops for children, the elderly, the disabled, young people, housewives, etc.
I first met Ivan in 1995 while collecting aid in Italy for delivery to refugee camps in Croatia and Bosnia. I remember his smile and warm handshake.
It was a few years before we saw him again. He called to offer us some boxes of clothing he had collected, and we went to his home, where we met his wife, Francesca, and their two children. From then on, we stayed in touch, and over time, we’ve learned a lot from each other.
It was the hot, dry season. With no rain in almost a month, crops were dying, cows had stopped giving milk, streams had long dried up, and we, like other farmers in the area, faced bankcruptcy if we didn’t see some rain soon.
I was in the kitchen making lunch when I saw my six-year-old son, Billy, walking purposefully and carefully toward the woods. I could only see his back. Minutes after he disappeared, he came running back.
I remember learning about the word “microcosm” when I was in fifth grade. As homework, our teacher handed each of us a 36-inch string and told us to make a circle on the ground. Then we were to look at everything within the circle, study it, and see what lived in our tiny world.
From then on I was fascinated with little worlds. I spent hours sitting in the grass creating environments for ants and little bugs. I made chairs out of leaves and gowns out of petals. I made tiny roads and houses out of twigs. But mostly I just watched.
My son Anthony is a bright,active, three-year-old who loves to learn new things. A while back, his favorite topic of conversation was lightning. He never seemed to tire of talking about storms, about how buildings sometimes catch fire when hit by lightning, and so on. When he began acting out those scenarios with his Playmobile people and Lego blocks, I channeled his thoughts and energy more positively by teaching him about how Benjamin Franklin had invented the lightning rod to avert such disasters.
I was looking at a tree outside my window and thinking how beautiful and perfect it is,producing exactlywhat God designed it to produce, fruitful and flowering, strong and beautiful, fulfilling its mission in life. A tree is a vision of the perfection of God’s creation. Even if a tree is struck by lightning, toppled in a storm, or cut down, the root will send forth new shoots, new life. Isn’t that beautiful?
God made the forests, the tiny stars, and the wild winds—and I think that he made them partly as a balance forthat kind of civilization that would choke the spirit of joy out of our hearts. He made the great open places for the people who want to be alone with him and talk to him, away from the crowds that kill all reverence. And I think that he is glad at times to have us forget our cares and responsibilities that we may be nearer him—as Jesus was when he crept away into the wilderness to pray.
—Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.—Job 12:7–10 NIV
A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole [of] nature in its beauty.
Finding ways to reduce our consumption,reuse items, and recycle are practical ways in which each of us can care for the environment. As a bonus, these simple measures will often help trim household expenses.
Waste reduction starts when you’re shopping. If you regularly throw away spoiled or out-of-date food, you’re buying too much. The same applies to the meals you prepare. If you often throw away leftovers, cook less.
Avoid buying items that you expect to use onlya few times. Rent or borrow instead, when possible.