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Weekly Reflection - How green was my planet?

25 August 2021

In her final contribution to Catch-Up last week, Canon Leah mentioned Luke Jerram’s magnificent installation, Gaia. This internally lit scale model of the globe, seven metres in diameter and created using detailed NASA imagery, has been suspended in the cathedral nave for over a week now. It has brought thousands of people into the cathedral every day, and the events that have been taking place throughout the week – concerts, discussions, storytelling, even Pilates!– have all been sold out. But it’s the planet itself that is the star of the show. As it slowly revolves, imitating the earth spinning on its axis, it generates a feeling of awe and wonder along with a deeper appreciation of the importance of caring for our fragile environment.

The Cathedral Chapter decided that the period when Gaia is in the cathedral was an ideal time to launch our eco policy: Learn, Love, Save. Its title, inspired by some words of the Senegalese forestry engineer Baba Dioum, reminds us of the importance of understanding and cherishing our environment so we can make informed decisions about how to exercise responsible stewardship. The challenge for the cathedral community will be to translate the words of the eco policy into practical action – action that will benefit not only us but our neighbours beyond Wakefield and beyond the United Kingdom.

In the Old Testament book Deuteronomy we read that God, speaking through Moses, tells the assembled people of Israel that he is making a covenant – that is, a solemn agreement – not only with them but also ‘with those who are not here with us today’, ie with future generations. It is sometimes said that the future has no vote, with the implication that we have no responsibility to those who will come after us. God’s covenant with the people of Israel offers a different perspective, one on which the ancient Jewish rabbis reflected in a wonderful story in the Talmud, that great repository of Jewish wisdom and commentary on scripture.

One day, Honi Hame’agel was walking along the road when he saw an old man planting a carob tree. Honi said to him: After how many years will this tree bear fruit? The man said to him: It will not produce fruit until seventy years have passed. Honi said to him: You will surely not live another seventy years? So how do you expect to benefit from this tree? The man said to him: I found a fruitful world because others had planted it. Just as my ancestors planted for me, I, too, am planting for my descendants.

May we go and do likewise.

With love and prayers,

Dean Simon

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