Have you ever thought that growing a native plant garden or nurturing a few container plants on the balcony of your apartment would actually be a way to love your neighbors? Close your eyes and imagine your “happy place”–somewhere you experience peace, calm, and feel most connected to God. For most of us, that happy place is directly connected to God’s creation, whether it be a secluded beach, a forest, a mountain vista, or underneath a big oak tree. Plenty of studies help explain what we already intuitively know: green spaces of nature are places where people let go of their stress and slow down from the busyness of today’s hectic lifestyles. And the more diverse the number and kinds of species (biodiversity), the more beneficial the environment is on the mental health of people utilizing that space¹. Your landscaping or mini container garden contributes to the health and well-being of your neighbors.Continue reading →
In the language of medicine, symptoms of a problem or disease are often what help professionals diagnose the root cause. If a person has malaria, he or she will exhibit symptoms like a fever, the chills, and feeling achey. Of course, many of us have experienced those signs and we just have the flu. Context is also crucial: malaria is only found in certain areas of the world, and only carried by certain mosquito species. Symptoms can point a doctor in the right direction, but a closer examination like an MRI, X-ray, or blood test usually provides the definitive proof of the problem.
So what in the world do monarchs have to do with malaria fever?
One hundred years ago last Monday, on September 1, 1914, with the Russian revolution in full swing, World War I raging in France, and in the midst of a thousand other events of note, a single, nondescript bird in a cage in a zoo in Cincinnati Ohio died. A century later, we remember the death of that bird. Why? Martha (Marta in some documents) was the last passenger pigeon still alive, and her passing marks one of the most dismal failures of humanity’s exercise of dominion over God’s creation in all of modern history.
The story of the passenger pigeon is well documented. In the mid-19th century, flocks of birds numbering in the billions streamed across the skies of North America. Huffpost provides one description of many:
At the time of the Civil War, the passenger pigeon was the most numerous bird in all of North America, probably even the world. There were as many as 5 billion birds flying the skies. They ranged throughout the eastern United States, parts of Montana and Texas and north well into Canada. Imagine looking up into the sky today and not being able to see the sun because a flock of birds was so numerous it blocked the light for hours and hours.