Baby robins reside on my front porch - the very same porch where I have carefully tended flowers all summer. The porch is theirs until they fly away. I do hope some of the plants are still living by then.
It seems as though we make choices: have flowers or baby birds. My cats and I have enjoyed watching the birds. I will be happy to have a place to sit outside while we still have summer. Another choice: Last Friday, I joined a group of people from the local communities on a forest walk - it was guided by knowledgeable folk, biologists and forestry people and such. We visited four stations learning about clear cutting and tree management, the economics of our beautiful forest and most amazingly, about the world beneath the land we walked on. Seems there is a symbiotic relationship between what we see above ground and the huge subterranean growth. I can only liken it to the vast underground ocean mountains and aquatic life that never surfaces. The take away from the day? For me, that this pristine (some of it never cut) land needs care even as we manage visitors looking to share our experiences. The Tioga County Visitor's Bureau director was right in reminding us that some people who come on buses want to see the forest and visit gift shops and we must have a place for them while others want primitive hiking. The two can coexist. Much like the birds on my porch and me.
Another choice: At the same time as I wander the forest, I drive by new derricks from gas wells that have begun to "grow" all over our area. Gas has been found - a huge amount of natural gas and the gas companies have bought the rights to some of it, leased the rights to some of it and are still negotiating the rights to other pockets of gas. There is a huge environmental discussion about how good this gas drilling is for the earth. This is especially poignant for an area that was coal mined years ago. On the one hand, I want the area to remain pristine; on the other, we see that people who have lived without many amenities have a chance to have what some consider basic requirements. For instance, one of my congregation members will have a new kitchen in her house. "New" not being an $80,000 kitchen; new, meaning appliances that replace a 30-year old range, or adding a dishwasher. She tells me they may just get the shell done and the appliances - finish it as times goes by. Not luxury. Basic to me. The gas and the forest and the land and all the people will negotiate a way to live that gives each a chance to survive and even live better.
Now, you may be wondering how these experiences fit into the work of a new church planter. Sometimes, so do I. I think in the long run, it makes me a better pastor - more able to understand the people in my congregation on Sunday morning and those I meet who I invite to this new church. As I network, I never know if/how my efforts will bear fruit (as it were). Wheter they do or not - I cannot help but be a better steward of all my environments.