Earth Day, 2015

Earth Day 2015: Sea and Sky, Prayer and Conversion

It was a perfect Vancouver day… the sun shining, the sky blue; a slip of cloud in the distance, moving up Howe Sound; a breeze from the west, pushing occasional white caps on the waves. And I am walking the seawall – perhaps my favourite place in the world.

An otter swims in the sea off of Vancouver.

One of the strange gifts of being Moderator has been the amount of time I have spent away from home – a gift in that I have discovered how deeply rooted I am in Vancouver…  not just family and friends and home; but also history, smell, space; this is where I belong. Here, by this ocean, these mountains, this forest, this city. Sometimes it takes distance to remind us of what our home-land means. As the poet T.S. Eliot said, “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” (Little Gidding).

Sign on Vancouver Beach advising public of oil spill.

Paterson goes on to write:

But as I walked the seawall, I was confronted with big signs, plastered all over the beaches:WATER SAFETY NOTICE
Due to an oil spill from a cargo ship in English Bay it is recommended that
people and pets temporarily avoid going in the water.
Clean up will be conducted by the Federal Coast Guard officials and their contractors.
Please also refrain from attempting to clean up the spill as it can cause further impact.
Call 3-1-1 to report any concerns or observations
as we continue to manage this unfortunate incident.The language is carefully crafted… don’t be alarmed, this unfortunate incident is being managed.  Just don’t go in the water; don’t even try to clean up the stuff.

Well, I’m glad the signs are up – we’re organized, finally, about clean-up. But I am worried.  Only 30 or 40 waterfowl dead, they say. But later on? And what might happen to the great blue herons, as they prepare to mate, nest, and rear their chicks? Or to the fish, the otters, and seals, the gulls and crows? And what is this about “further impact?”

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