July 19, 2015
[Post By Selys Rivera: Yakama Christian Mission Intern 2015]
When I first arrived at JustLiving Farm/Yakama Christian Mission this summer, I was determined to prove I was more than just a city girl. So to detox from city life, I sat down on a bench and willed myself to connect with nature.
There were stunning mountain ridges that sat patiently for my acknowledgement. The wind danced with the grass, the tree branches, and the flowers, expecting a high score from me for the performance. The crickets chirped, the sprinklers sang, and the cows mooed in a well-rehearsed musical composition. Together, shades of blue met green, spurts of red, and pink, creating a canvas unlike any I had ever seen. As I watched, the fresh scent of grass kissing flowers introduced itself to my nose. The wind danced with my hair then and I suddenly realized that everything I experienced expected me to sigh one word: “breathtaking.”
But I couldn’t and here’s why.
Butterflies waved as they passed by, merely implying their greeting, but not the flies. The ants continued their workday below me, too busy to chat, but not the flies. Unlike the butterflies, simply gliding to their destination didn’t satisfy the flies. Instead, they anxiously zipped here and there, unaware of how to fill the extra time. They weren’t as busy as the ants either, so they constantly buzzed their anxiety to each other, their choices in conversation local always near my ears.
As a result, the more I tried to enjoy time away from my iPhone, laptop, Netflix, and kindle, the more I struggled against one fly in particular. It must have realized what I was trying to do and found it hilarious. It didn’t think I could truly unplug from my gadgets and connect to nature. It laughed at even the thought of it – buzz, ha, buzz, ha!
It sat on my boot, bating me, seeming to say, “Go ahead, swat at me. Reveal to the world that you really can’t appreciate nature. Reveal you’ll never be more than a technology addict.”
My hand got in position and my eyes narrowed as my frustration prepared me for attack. However, I decided against it. There was no way I was going to give this condescending fly the satisfaction. I left the city and came to the country to work and learn important lessons and I needed to be able to make that transition to be successful. So damn it, that’s what I was going to do!
I let the fly go, proud of myself. I sat back in the bench, closed my eyes, and smiled in victory as the sun bathed me.
Then I opened my eyes, saw a wasp, and went inside. I decided the view was just as beautiful through the window.
Looking back on this experience now that I’m finishing the summer, I realize why I had such a difficult time connecting to nature. It had more to do with my inability to see God in it than my city life habits. My whole life I had been taught that God is in heaven, watching me from some other place until I die and can go to heaven myself. It wasn’t until I arrived here that I learned God isn’t in some far off place; God is literally all around us.
Everything created has a piece of the Creator in it – the mountains, the wind, the grass, the flowers, the sun, the cows, the butterflies, the ants, and even the flies and the wasps. However, we can’t see this when we are so self-centered and focused on what we can do to get into heaven. We definitely won’t see this when we can’t even see God in our brothers and sisters simply because they are of a different race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, or religion. As a result, we don’t work towards justice because we simply assume that it’ll come when we’re in heaven. Then, what happens is we let people suffer, we let animals suffer, and we let the world suffer instead of working towards systemic change that could bring God’s realm to this Earth.
We have become too comfortable with this idea of a far off God because then we do not feel the pressure to work hard in what God created us to do. To see God around us in everything brings an urgency to work that many Christians are not used to. Being a Christian should be difficult, but we want it to be easy. We don’t want to be taken out of our comfort zones and challenged to think and change. I am just as guilty as anyone else, but now I’m ready to become uncomfortable. I think the more uncomfortable we feel, the more we will work. We just can’t get discouraged and need to let the change happen generationally.
Right now, I am not sure what I have been created to do, but as I search, I plan on keeping my eyes and heart open so that I can be guided by God all around me, even if it means seeing God within the flies.