The last Sunday of this month has a passage from Romans in which St. Paul says, "And creation groans". In the beginning, Genesis tells us, God formed things and called them, "good"; not perfect, but good. In this beautiful story, God, man, and nature lived in harmony with each other- caring for each other, respecting each other. But sin entered into the story. A discussion about sin (it's origins, it's purpose, whose fault) I'll leave to those more intellectually gifted than me. Sin separated Creator and creation and set creation against itself. And many millennia later St. Paul says that creation is groaning...still. Creation, according to Paul, is waiting for the children of God to assume their role, accept their responsibility in God's creation.
In the past accepting this role and responsibility meant controlling peoples' lives, telling them what they could and couldn't do with the threat of eternal damnation hanging over their souls. But as I read John's gospel, and the writings assigned to St. John, accepting this role and responsibility is to have compassion. Compassion can be abused and exhausting. But compassion is intentional and life giving; to someone else and ourselves.
Many years ago singer, song writer Joni Mitchell wrote a song for the music festival, Woodstock; a version of the song was made famous by Crosby, Stills Nash and Young. In the song are the lyrics, "We are stardust, we are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." I wonder if compassion isn't the road back.