To So Love The World
This morning I was part of something kind of extraordinary.I took part in a call with Mary Evelyn Tucker, one of the foremost writers and educators in the intersections between religion and ecology. The call was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-partisan group that encourages dialog and learning across difference in furtherance of better understanding among voices from all corners of the world. In substance, the call was a presentation about where there is hope to be found in a field where many fear even to dream of change. But the call was more than that.
The list of people on the call ranged from leaders of the Zoroastrian community to the Roman Catholic Church, from parish ministers in wealthy areas to ministers serving communities in some of the most vulnerable places on earth, from community educators to tenured faculty at some of the world’s most recognizable institutions. After Professor Tucker’s presentation, there followed a range of insightful questions from others on the call. Professor Tucker fielded all the questions with the depth and clarity for which she is so well known and respected. And she told a lot of stories.
Throughout her presentation she told stories about children. She spoke of events to which she has borne witness—testimony by children before the United Nations and the ongoing lawsuit by children against the United States for failing to address the effects of climate change. And she also told the story of being in a car with her husband and hearing from a child young enough to be strapped safely into car seats yet aware enough to ask them, “Are you worried about global warming?”
And it was that image that stuck with me the most. I like to imagine it was one of those car seats that actually face backward. And Professor Tucker and her husband pile into the car, riding with a colleague and their colleague’s children through town, when seemingly out of nowhere, “Are you worried about global warming?” And on my call with religious people, people steeped in the telling and the believing of miracles, of voices divine ringing from on high or crashing in electric thunder upon a mountaintop, a truth teller in our midst shared what she knew of the questions coming for us all. And a tiny nation, united by electronic means, unbordered, open, and yearning for change, listened and heard.
I should disclose that Professor Tucker taught two courses I took. And I grew to admire, trust, and value her a great deal. She and her husband did not have children, but she often expressed, like she did on this call, that her students are her children. And I remembered then, driving up a tree lined street in the crisp, leaf-swept fall, when I spotted Professor Tucker and her husband walking hand-in-hand on the sidewalk. I rolled down my window without hesitation and yelled, “It’s me, T. J. I love you both.” And they hardly hesitated in calling back, “We love you, too.”
It is good at times to know that some so love the world that they treat every child as their own. And may it always be so.
Rev. T. J.