By contributing writer Zoe Olson for KidSpirit’s Climate Change: Tending Our Planet issue.
When I was younger, my family lived in a house with a giant two-and-a-half-acre lawn that was mostly trees and a creek trickling through the backyard.
Being homeschooled, I had a lot of time on my hands; I would have gone crazy with boredom if it hadn’t been for that backyard.
The forest was at its best in the early morning or late afternoon, with the sun low in the sky. Golden rays of light would flicker through the leaves, setting them alight with an orange glow. Every time I felt lonely, I would traipse into the forest to a log that we’d laid across the creek as a bridge, and sit there, kicking at the freezing water. Then, once my feet were plenty swollen, I would crouch by the creek and sculpt the clay into pots and spoons. Too dirty to go inside, I let my dogs lick the mud off of me, then hosed myself down, numbing my feet even more. After drying off in the grass, I went inside feeling better about myself and the world around me.
As an artist, I know how personal my artwork can be, because it expresses who I am deep down inside. In those moments in my backyard, I was reminded that the earth is no different. It is a masterpiece made by God and therefore expresses Him. I can discover a little more of who He is just by going outside. That is why the earth is so beautiful. It is an expression of the one who is the most beautiful in the universe. That is why I’m proud to call myself a Christian.
Once, I went through a stage where I was obsessed by underground houses. They could keep you safe during a tornado, and they stayed at a comfortable temperature all year long. They were just so cool and I wanted an underground clubhouse so badly that, one day, I couldn’t stand it any longer and started to dig a hole in the middle of my beautiful backyard.
As the hole grew larger and larger, my backyard grew uglier and uglier. Every time it rained the hole filled up with water and I had to wait for weeks until I could continue to dig. It was almost as if my backyard were trying to warn me to stop, trying to give me enough time to rethink my actions. But of course I never listened. Eventually I grew out of my underground house obsession, but there stayed the giant hole in my backyard.
Humans tend to make rash decisions without thinking about the consequences. The earth was created perfectly by God, so we should think twice before doing things that could potentially hurt it. In fact, we need to protect the earth. After all, it is our responsibility.
When God placed Adam on the earth He gave him the responsibility to care for the Garden of Eden, his home. Now that responsibility has been passed onto us. God gave us this incredible planet — our home. I can’t even imagine a better one (and I have a pretty amazing imagination). We need to show God our appreciation by taking care of it.
My parents raised me and my siblings to love God, and with that comes a love for nature. Growing up, I never even gave a thought to littering, out of love for my God’s masterpiece. Loving something is a big part of taking care of it. If my parents didn’t love me, I wouldn’t feel very well taken care of — and if I didn’t love the earth, then I wouldn’t feel the need to take care of it.
It pains me to see other young people go straight from school to their computer, with their smart phones pulled out the whole way home. If they would just look around them and see the glory of God’s creation, rather than staring at their screens with blank faces, then maybe they would love the earth as much as I do.
My family has moved from the house with the giant two-and-a-half acre backyard and I miss it a lot. Still, I enjoy going outside on a clear, sunny day to appreciate the planet God gave us. Each time, I’m amazed by the care and detail God put into creating the environment. I am reminded of the privilege and responsibility I have to care for this masterpiece.
Zoe Olson is an inspired ninth grader who loves to read, write, draw, and eat. Her talents are limited to the right side of her brain, but she has learned to manage. Being the baby girl of the family, she was quite spoiled as a child but she seems to have turned out all right.