Beyond the Edge of Knowledge: An Ecological Hope for Lent

The Reverend Christine V. Hides
The Prairie Crayfish—Closer to home in Illinois
Friday, March 15, 2024

Every single creature is full of God
and is a book about God.
Every creature is a word of God.
If I spend enough time with the tiniest creature,
even a caterpillar,
I would never have to prepare a sermon.
So full of God is every creature.
Meister Eckhart

The Prairie Crayfish

My local watershed is just a sliver of land on either side of a sleepy stream, one of three that eventually become the Chicago River. I walk the trail from my house through Middlefork Savanna frequently. Even in this familiar little strip there are surprises, like this Prairie Crayfish (if my emerging crayfish identification skills can be trusted) who was out early on a Monday morning carrying her brood of babies on her tail.

Closeup of Psalm 19 stained glass window at Kenilworth Union Church of a crayfish.

They might just be visible if you can zoom into the photo. I decided this interesting and slightly creepy creature deserved to be the closer to home animal to end this week of devotionals on watersheds. The artists who crafted our beloved Psalm 19 window must have been in awe of God’s creativity too, because a crayfish (lobster?) glistens in a corner among the angels.

Illinois is home to a number of native crayfish and at least two invasive varieties: the Red Swamp and the Rusty crayfish. Likely introduced to the area through fishing, both take over the habitats of the native species. Because these lobster cousins feed on a variety of plants and dead animals, the native types are a keystone, or essential species. If caught by a predator, crayfish are able to self-amputate their claws, called chelae. In the spring female Prairie Crayfish carry their young to fresh water then return to their underground homes—a moment I managed to capture with my phone.

Watershed Discipleship by Ched Myers invites us to local, water, based faith practices. His movement is meant as a corrective to the ancient Christian doctrines which enabled humans to treat the Earth and its resources as something to pillage and exploit for our gain. Noting the watershed moment of ecological crisis we live in he writes “We have lost our way as creatures of God’s biosphere, and only the map that is woven into creation can lead us home. And that map is defined by watersheds.”

Let us pray:
God of the Crawfish and Crawly Critters, as we wander our watershed, let the streams and rivers become a map. Show us how to love what you have made and be faithful stewards of your Creation. 

March 15, 2024

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