I inherited a love of nature from my grandma and grandpa Matkin.
As a young boy, my grandpa took me on walks in the coulees and in the mountains. He taught me how to identify and classify the plants and animals we saw. He showed me that the more you knew about nature, the more respect you had for it. More recently, I inherited from him his 35mm slides of wildflowers, with the flowers' names carefully labeled. As I went through them on an old projector with my kids, I thought how wonderful it is that I had a grandpa who took pictures of wildflowers.
My grandma taught me how to see and appreciate beauty. She was breathless in her enthusiasm over pretty flowers and trees, scenery and birds, especially hummingbirds. One of my favorite stories of her is when she was snorkeling in Hawaii. She became overcome by all the vibrant colors and diversity of the tropical fish to the point where she had to stand up in the crowded bay and shout out loud, "Oh! You are all so beautiful!" Her reverence for creation always felt like a big part of her religion, and it stuck with me.
Our church teaches some amazing doctrine about the earth, and how we must learn to both take care of it, and to share it.
Joseph Smith revealed:
"For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.
But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low." (D&C 104:13,16).
And again Joseph Smith teaches:
"For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.
But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.
And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need." (D&C 49:19-21)
That is some pretty radical stuff there.
Modern day prophets have pointed out the relationship between spiritual pollution, or sin, and the subsequent pollution of the earth. And while some stubbornly question man's environmental impact, especially climate change, I think that "seas heaving themselves beyond their bounds" and increased natural disasters and climate extremes in the last days is solidly scriptural, and that it is a result of our wickedness, namely our greed, our rampant consumerism, and social and economic disparity.
Enoch saw the earth groaning, saying "Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me?" (Moses 7:48)
And finally, President Spencer W. Kimball:
"When I pass through the lovely countryside or fly over the vast and beautiful expanses of our globe, I compare these beauties with many of the dark and miserable practices of men, and I have the feeling that the good earth can hardly bear our presence upon it." (The False Gods We Worship, 1976)
I believe that reverence and good stewardship for the earth, especially by sharing more freely our resources, will inevitably turn our hearts to God, and vice versa.
In short, I believe as Latter-day Saints and Christians, we should take our environmental stewardship very seriously.
Happy Earth Day.