Okay, so it wasn’t a toad. It was probably a tree frog. It had been sitting on the outer sill of our upstairs window all day, its little toad chin pulsing, a brownish lump in the corner of the glass. Alex was out playing, so it wasn’t until evening, when Christian discovered it, that Alex got a look. By then, the toad had begun climbing the window, and we could see the tiny suction cup on the end of each toe. “It’s probably dying,” Christian said.
Now, we all know how Alex reacts to animals dying. So quicker than you could say “Jiminy Cricket,” Christian had been sent on a rescue mission, out Julianna’s window and onto the roof. Alex vacillated between giggles and hysterics for fear that Daddy wasn’t moving fast enough to save poor Toad from expiring.
In the end, Christian safely navigated the roof (despite his acrophobia)…
…and, while the kids watched (and, in Alex’s case, shouted encouragement and exhortation)….
…he maneuvered the toad (all over the roof and) into a plastic container, and regained the safety of the house.
Then he and Alex –oh, and don’t forget Superman—took Mr. Toad down to the edge of the woods and set him free.
I love that Alex is such a softie for animals. It tells me that he is already processing an important lesson about living on God’s earth: we may be the top of the biological totem pole, but if the world is ours, then taking care of it is also ours.
Although “green” is part of our cultural consciousness now, many people still have a knee-jerk reaction to any suggestion that smacks of “tree hugging.” But the essential point, for a Christian, is that it really doesn’t matter if global warming is or isn’t happening—if it’s caused by humanity or not. We’re the top of the totem pole, and as such, it’s our job to be good stewards of Creation.
It can be as simple as not littering. Our creek catches all the litter of the neighborhood, washed down through storm sewers every time it rains. Styrofoam, plastic bottles, McDonald’s trash and cardboard foul the beauty of the water.
But there are other, less obvious ways in which we foul the water. Our experience with infertility made us look at the earth differently. Studies have linked male infertility with the presence of pesicides in the water, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is an awful lot that is not filtered out of our drinking water. How can a person see the surge in couples who have difficulty conceiving, and not wonder if it’s connected with all the unnecessary junk that goes into the water? Industrial chemicals, overuse of lawn chemicals, pharmaceuticals—if these things affect the animal kingdom, how can we think we’re immune? How much long-term pain do we set ourselves up for by eating things whose ingredient lists contain more chemicals than food? By ripping out trees to build monster homes with virtually no green space around them? By taking drugs to shut off healthy, functioning body systems, as birth control does?
That’s not to say that there is no time or place for any of these things. Pharmaceuticals can prevent and treat disease; chemicals can be used to keep plants alive. Used wisely, technology can make our lives easier and more beautiful. But we need to think about what we use, and how much, and why, and is there a way to accomplish the same end without the “footprint”? In other words, we are called to be everyday environmentalists, to look after what has been given to us to enrich our lives. That is the lesson that I see budding in Alex’s tender heart, and it makes me very happy.