Dear People of Low’s,
When you are in Hawaii you are very aware of the need to conserve natural resources—especially fresh water. On the west (leeward) side of the Big Island, where Ocean View (and St. Jude’s Episcopal Church) is located, the climate is dry. The dry weather and relatively low humidity can be a blessing, except in one way—water is often scarce. Rainwater collection tanks dot the landscape (there is very limited access to public water sources in the area). As you take showers, you are aware of the need to linger as little as possible. In particularly dry times water is trucked from areas where it is more plentiful (the east side—windward—is humid and gets a lot of rainfall) to fill the catchment tanks for homes and businesses in Ocean View. In fact, fresh water isn’t simply an issue for the Big Island. The availability of fresh water in the entire state is a growing concern, as the population grows.
You will also notice that grocery stores in Hawaii do not issue plastic single-use bags. Hawaii was the first state to ban the bags in 2014—15. You bring your own bags, and it is wise to keep some in your care in case you forget to bring one along while shopping. Knowing that you must have reusable bags makes it easier (not harder) to use them, as everyone is “on board”, including cashiers in the check-out line. The ban on single-use bags is one way to safeguard the marine environment, where the bags are a hazard to sea turtles (who mistake them for jellyfish) and filter feeders (like whale sharks). They also don’t clutter the limited (and precious) land area of the islands. Another area of awareness is the impact humans have had on the ecology of the islands.
On the Big Island you see mongoose and many birds that are not native to the islands. In fact, you have to search to discover native land birds, generally found only in the higher elevations due to the introduction of mosquitoes to the lowlands by European sailors. Most of Hawaii’s native bird life has gone extinct. Most of the plant life, too, seen on the Big Island, beautiful as it is, is imported. Hawaii’s animal and plant life has been impacted negatively by humans more than any other place on earth. As we enter summer we are generally more aware of the natural environment. People are out (even in the heat), with some vacationing at the coast or in the mountains.
When we are out we are drawn to creation—and the Creator. As Christians we can’t avoid the message of Genesis—that what God has made is “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Humans are to not only work the land but also “take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). In Matthew 10:29 Jesus tells us that the Father cares for even the tiniest sparrow-- “not one will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Care for creation is a calling on all who worship the Creator. Wasting what God has made, destroying the creatures God lovingly established on earth, and polluting resources that all humankind depends upon are not only unwise, but sinful. While the issue of climate change may be controversial in some quarters, the Christian duty to tend to what God has made and to love the neighbor (making certain that what we do doesn’t harm our neighbor near or far) is not. Prayerfully consider this summer ways in which you can care for what God has made—and in turn love your neighbor in doing so.
God loves you and I do too,
Pastor John Mark