These two photos, taken from my window at work, were taken 26 seconds apart:
Just before the storm hit, the Emergency Alert on my iPhone went off (most smartphones today are set to receive local weather, Amber, and other emergency alerts), screeching a flash flood alert. High winds in the area downed thousands of trees, and at one point shut down Interstate 70.
Raising a child overseas has some odd challenges. One of them is getting them to the stage where they can independently visit a restroom. The first problem: which restroom?
This is compounded somewhat if you need to not only teach the child that restrooms come in at least two types, but also more than one language. In Japan, some restrooms used symbols, such as ▼for men’s restrooms and ▲for women’s restrooms, or ♂ for men and ♀ for women. But it also isn’t uncommon to find restrooms with signs that say, in English, “Men” or “Women.” Even a pre-literate child can figure out the symbols, or that the word “women” is longer than “men.”
Having mastered this level of independence, our child was nothing short of enraged to move to the US and find restrooms, usually in restaurants, labeled “Hombre” and “Mujer” or “Señor” and “Señorita” or “Blokes” and “Sheilas” or “Monsieur” and “Mademoiselle” or some other cutesy combo. The rage soon receded as other aspects of American life eclipsed this madness.
But then I recently came across this restroom sign, and felt utterly perplexed:
The current Earth Day was first observed on April 22, 1970, as an “environmental teach-in” at two thousand colleges and universities and ten thousand elementary, middle school and high schools across the United States. It was a grass-roots response to a series of environmental disasters, in particular the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, and a growing awareness that, in particular, air and water pollution were causing increasingly severe problems.
While initially a secular issue, many religious institutions have endorsed the goals of Earth Day, educating their followers on the need to be good stewards of God’s blessings. The United Methodist Church has a statement on Environmental Stewardship that begins:
All creation is under the authority of God and all creation is interdependent. Our covenant with God requires us to be stewards, protectors, and defenders of all creation. The use of natural resources is a universal concern and responsibility of all as reflected in Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”
Emmanuel United Methodist Church, in Laurel, Maryland, decorates the altar with a variety of items to reflect the liturgical calendar, or the pastoral message, or other themes. This April the altar had a particularly wonderful decoration in recognition of Earth Day:
The tree, surrounded by paper butterflies and birds and decorated with paper flowers, was beautiful and moving. And recyclable.