Letter written by Jane Kelly for Common Grace's Season of Creation 2023 'Letters to our Future Children' series
My dear child,
I saw my first and only rainbow finch (Gouldian finch) in 2014 while travelling through Tjoritja, the West MacDonnell Ranges with my young family. I watched delightedly, as it darted from branch to branch with an energy that almost matched my exuberant youngest son; one of your ancestors. This delightful little bird has to be one of the most visibly brilliant and beautiful creatures in the entire world.The only reason I was able to lock my eyes onto this agile and active soul was because it was behind a cage in an aviary. To the shame of my generation, you are likely never to see a rainbow finch, at least not in the wild, as these creatures are predicted to become extinct in the near future, mainly due to land clearing and fire.
In just over my lifetime our Earth’s biodiversity has reduced by almost 70%! I stop and contemplate that figure; and the longer I pause, the greater my horror at what that truly means. Already lost to us are the Western Black Rhinoceros, Bramble Cay melomys, Javan Tiger, and Christmas Island forest skink. You will probably never see numbats, Mountain Pygmy-possums, and Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens as these creatures are predicted to become extinct in the near future.
Even our world famous koalas are not safe from the impacts of our greed and lack of care.
Only four brief years ago, our Black Summer Bushfires of 2019-2020 saw an estimated three billion animals - mammals, reptiles, birds and frogs - and trillions of invertebrates die. I cannot hide from the ghastly likelihood that these fires are not historically the worst your world has ever seen. They felt apocalyptic to us; I fear they will be all too common for you.
During my lifetime the world wrung its hands about climate change. Would the ice caps melt; how ferocious would bushfire seasons become; would the floods come for our houses; how will we accommodate the increasing numbers of climate refugees?
Fewer asked questions about how this would impact our fellow creatures and plants, who share the oceans, lands and skies that are our common home? From my western perspective, too often I and my contemporaries saw ourselves separate from the rest of creation. But we are inextricably linked.
As I read Scripture I am reminded that God called all of His creation good, and in its completeness it was ‘very good’; every part together as they should be; life giving; dynamic; in harmony.
I mourn the death of my fellow creatures. Words cannot capture the shame and remorse I feel that this is the world I contributed to and left for you; and it fills me with fear for you and for those who cannot speak or fight for themselves, as the environment warps around them at a terrifying speed they simply cannot adapt to. My generation is moving, but not fast enough.
I ask for your forgiveness; I ask for the forgiveness of all future generations of creation. I pray for those who still close their eyes, ears and hearts - may they turn their face towards the Creator and see His love for all of creation (Ezekiel 18:31-32). I hold onto hope; grounded, earthy, audacious hope (Psalm 33). I pray and hope that peace and justice flow as we all press on towards the goal of embracing and fulfilling our God-given role as stewards of His precious, diverse and beautiful creation (Genesis 2:15).
In hope and prayer,
Jane Kelly is Common Grace's Creation and Climate Justice Coordinator where, among other activities, she's had the privilege of overseeing the 'Knit for Climate Action' campaign - gifting climate-stripe scarves knitted by Christians to Australian and international political leaders and sending a gracious and strong call for urgent action on climate change. Jane is passionate about connecting with people, hearing their stories, and coming together to see positive change in communities. She lives on Dharug land in Western Sydney with her husband Simon and their three children, Elise, Finn, and Eamon, and the black labrador, Bailey. Her studies include theology, ministry, ethics, and legal studies.
We invite you to take time this week to connect with Country and go on a prayer walk in your local area. Wiradjuri man and Aboriginal Christian Leader Adam Gowen has previously shared about Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr, an Aboriginal Leader and inspiring Christian thinker, who suggests dadirri (deep listening/contemplation) as a restorative practice that brings peace.
As you walk, practice dadirri, listening to the sounds around you and taking time to pray. You may like to write and/or draw three things you saw or heard as you connected and immersed yourself in nature.