The Story of Nashville A Rocha – Part II

By Flo Paris-Oakes 

Building Rain Gardens 82

I sit on a cushion on the floor of the Henderson’s living room where several of us have gathered together. We are friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters, and we share the same delight for the natural resources that God has given us: the dogwoods and magnolias that bloom in many of our yards, the mockingbirds, robins, and goldfinches that take refuge in their branches, even the elements–the bread and the wine that we share on Sundays (or on nights like these)–are gifts of grace, and the fruit of His imagination.

I look at the at all of the faces in the room.  Together we represent a wide range of histories and place. Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Texas, California, and Northern Ireland. A string of story and highway and sea has led us here and tied us together under common gratitude, but also common concern. We want to be better stewards of the gifts of God.

For a long time, I did not know other Christians who shared these concerns. I carried them with me, a small collection of fragmented thoughts and ideas with no meaningful connections. But here in my own city, a friend’s living room in my own neighborhood, there are others called to the same purpose–as all of us are–to worship our Creator. I listen to the voices of my friends as our ideas and hopes and concerns converge. I ache for the restoration of God’s creation, and I am not alone.

Some of our concerns are about the purity of the seeds we plant in the ground, or the way animals are treated for food, or the health of the rivers and mountains formed by the hands of God.

Tom Rowley, executive director for the Christian conservation organization A Rocha USA lends his voice and expertise to the discussion. We ask questions and voice our fears. But Tom’s response lacks the guilt and anger I have heard in so many other environmental groups. In its place there is a hopeful passion to properly steward God’s creation.

The driving theme of A Rocha is to follow Christ’s example of redemption–to restore people and places. And I feel that call rising up in all of us: an obedient and worshipful response to God’s grace, rather than desperate environmentalism.

There is a simple science project that demonstrates the cohesive property of water. If you fill a glass to the brim with water, you can slowly add more. Droplet by droplet, the water sticks together, until it forms a convex ridge of water over the top of the cup.

It occurs to me, as I walk out the front door full to the brim with purpose and hope: this community shares the same cohesiveness as water. Linking thought by thought, act by act, prayer by prayer, into a movement that rises above the cup–and eventually–spills out into the world.

To learn more about Nashville A Rocha, contact Jenna Henderson or visit

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