Who's in Your Neighborhood?
Updated: Sep 30, 2021
My first of the month blog posts are dedicated to the practice of Living Connected. For September 2021, our focus is on the living beings who share our community with us.
Step outside and look for wild creatures who live in your neighborhood. Some, like chipmunks, you’ll see during the day. Others are active at night, but you’ll see evidence of them in footprints or where they dug in the ground. Can you find an insect going about its business? Notice birds flying overhead. Celebrate the reminder of God’s creation that these creatures bring to the human-made space where you live.
It’s easy to forget our neighborhoods are built within and dependent on natural systems. Watching the activity of wild creatures can re-connect us to these systems. Creatures reveal that we live within an ecosystem, even if it’s an urban ecosystem. The ripple effects of the on-going collapse of the insect population show the inherent value of all creatures, including the ones we might consider a nuisance.
Look one more time, with a sense of wonder, at a creature you’ve been watching. Say a prayer of thanks for its life and place in in your neighborhood, and for people who protect the natural systems on which all creatures (including us!) depend. What might you do for the well-being of creatures where you live?
I invite you to try one of the following practices this month.
Read and consider what scripture says about the value of non-human creatures: Genesis 1:20-25; Genesis 2:7,18-19; Genesis 9:8-17; Leviticus 25:3-7; Psalm 104:10-24; and Psalm 148:7-10.
Read and reflect on Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac.
If you have children or work with children, read and discuss Paul Goble’s Song of Creation with them.
Pick one creature you see in your neighborhood. Research and learn its name and its resource needs. What role does it play in the ecosystem? After you get to know one creature, pick another, and learn about it, too!
Visit the nearest nature preserve, wildlife refuge, or conservation area and learn about creatures native to the ecosystem where you live.
If you have a yard or own property, dedicate a portion (maybe a 10% tithe!) to native plants and habitat for non-human creatures.
If you don’t have dogs or livestock, remove fences and other barriers to wildlife movement on your property.
Join the local Audubon society and learn to identify the birds where you live.