Of Pests and Weeds

My life has been in flux lately. I concluded my time at the mission in Milwaukee and have transitioned into a small church surrounded by fields on the outskirts of one of the suburbs. My beloved and I have traded our fast-paced lives in a thriving neighborhood in a vibrant city of six hundred thousand, for a much slower-paced and quieter life in a village of seven thousand thirty miles southwest of the city.

We are no longer renters, but homeowners, and this transition has given me a lot more things to think about. A couple of the flower beds have ant-hills so large that they appear to be Borg transwarp hubs.  Our yard is a battleground between turf grass and Creeping Charlie.

While the simple answer, and the one that others encourage me toward, is to reach for pesticides and herbicides and reassert my dominance over the lesser life-forms, I find myself conflicted.

I dislike insects of every kind, although they are part of the system which makes creation happen. I do want to have a nice lush lawn filled with green turf grass, but on the other hand, is repeatedly dumping poison into the ground the right thing?

***

Questions like this bring be back to the idea of dominion in the creation narrative in Genesis.

God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ (Gen 1:28; emphasis mine).

As I stare at my seemingly imperfect lawn, I begin to wonder, how does this passage apply to my situation?

While this may seem to be an insignificant question, after all, will a few less ants and some dead weeds really matter all that much?

But if I cannot consider these questions in small things how will I be able to consider them in big things?  If I simply poison the ants without thinking of it, how will I have an opportunity to consider them?

***

I, like many others I know, have a desire to create my world in my image, I like to be the one to determine what is good and what is bad, I wish to take the power of life and death in my hand. If creation was in my hand, I would have left out insects and spiders and creeping charlie. But creation is not in my hands, and it is not up to me.

What we do have is a collection of various forms of life which God had, at one time in a more perfect form, pronounced good. God didn’t ask my opinion, just included me in the great charge to all humanity to subdue and have dominion over the earth.

It is a balance. It is a balance that I must take seriously because I am not dealing with my own possession or creation, but God’s handiwork. So the question that i must ask is not, “what do I want?” but rather, “how can I be the best steward of God’s creation?”

 

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3 thoughts on “Of Pests and Weeds

  1. I love this 🙂 And…as of right now, my yard is filled with creeping charlie…and bumblebees. Sometimes the things that appear to be nuisances or undesirable are things that are harbingers of life.

  2. “Dominion” in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it applies to ruling and reigning, seems to be much more focused on being responsible for care for those one rules. Given that, our dominion over creation seems to imply a lot less power and a lot more responsibility.

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