Lament for a broken planet

by Rev Dr Liz Hoare

Where have all the swallows gone?

They used to congregate in the rafters of the barn but the owner converted it into a ‘des res’ and sold it for a big profit.

And now they can’t cross the creeping desert of the Sahara, because it’s getting bigger every year through drought and mismanagement of land.

And the climate is in turmoil, so how will they know when to set off or when it’s time to return. Why is the climate so out of kilter? What have we done?

Lord, have mercy.

Listen for the cuckoo again this Spring as you listen every year, and feel the anxiety in case it doesn’t come. Let the fear and grief and rage grip us because we have made it so hard for these iconic birds to bless our woods and fields and prevented our children from knowing what it means to ‘hear the first cuckoo in Spring.’

Lord have mercy.

Let us weep at the loss of beauty and variety in this world. And because we do not even know that we have sinned.

Though some of us have known something was wrong for a long time and chosen not to say anything. We have stayed silent and now the stones cry out.

So we must cry out in company with them. And rage against the dying of the light that comes when the air is filled with birdsong and the fields with tiny voles and dappled colour and the ocean teeming with whales. Where have they all gone? And why?

Lord have mercy.

Creator God, you who delight in abundance and variety, beauty and joy, why have you allowed us to abuse your world putting all this at risk? How long must it go on before we see the error of our ways?

Do we not deserve all we get: the fires and floods, the winds and the famine? But see the hungry eyes of the children, hear the anguished cries of the ones who have lost their homes and feel the fear of those whose lives are in jeopardy.  Weep and lament for them all because they have no advocate on earth.

Lord, have mercy.

And lament also for those who insist all is well; for those whose lives are still secure and who think it will not touch them; for those who know they should do something and have no idea what.

Lord God teach us to care, help us to change our ways, help us to seek your face, your ways and your life-giving rhythms before it is too late for our wonderful fragile world.

Lord have mercy. Grant us grace to turn again and change.

The Rev Dr Liz Hoare is tutor in spiritual formation and MTh course director at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and author of Twelve Great Spiritual Writers

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