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I Refuse to Lose Hope

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I Refuse to Lose Hope

On Gary's Faith Walk, it's important to speak for the trees

Challenges in our contemporary world can grind you down and leave you hopeless.


The UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio +20, concluded just days ago, failing to produce binding agreements on a host of environmental and social crises.


Debate over TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast rages on. Energy hunger collides with concerns for water purity and health issues.


In Bonner County, a classic confrontation pits business and snowmobile recreationists against the US Fish and Wildlife Service plan to protect woodland caribou.


Global, national, local… three examples of alternative visions from our world where human population has swelled beyond 7 billion.


I refuse to lose hope. In my faith walk, a vision of the peaceable kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9) shimmers on the horizon and a child is in its midst:


The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and  the lion shall eat straw like an ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.


Three years ago, I hiked amidst cactus and desert flowers in Saguaro National Park, just west of Tucson, Arizona. The day was glorious with a crystal blue sky above and skittering lizards at my feet. Wrapping up the day, I wandered into the visitor center bookstore and for the first time encountered “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. The subtitle of the book is “Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”


While my children and grandchildren have been raised with backpacks, hiking boots, and all manner of summer and winter non-motorized activities, the book opened my eyes to the disconnect between nature and so many young persons today. I vowed to do my small part to make a difference.


So, recent summer days have been spent “in the woods” with our 4-year-old grandson, Alec. Whether parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, older sibling, or friend, you know the wonderful routine. It’s a routine many of us are blessed to share: touching together a diamond of raindrop in the center of a blooming lupine, bending low to smell a pink wild rose, urging stillness to better watch the doe and her fawn walk by, and glimpsing the snow still atop surrounding mountains.


Why do I refuse to lose hope? The answer came on a descent of the Mickinnick Trail just northwest of Sandpoint. As Alec and I walked slowly through a cedar grove, he climbed atop a long ago cut stump and declared for all to hear, “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees!”


In his children’s book, “The Lorax,” Dr. Seuss created a tale of greed gone mad, destruction of habitat, and the redemptive story of a child restoring the environment. With themes of a peaceable kingdom, the story concludes with a message for us and the next generation “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”


And so, I hope.

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Author info

Gary Payton Gary Payton is on a Faith Walk that takes him to Russia, Eastern Europe and Sandpoint, Idaho

Tagged as:

global warming, nature deficit disorder, Garys Faith Walk, Lorax, Keystone pipeline

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