You might think faith is about belief but, more importantly, it means trust. This seems to be one of the themes emerging from my Christmas and New Year experiences.

I went walking a couple of days after Christmas in nearby Woods cared for by the Greensand Trust. They are restoring some of the areas which are classified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. This involves cutting down invasive trees to allow the natural heathers to reestablish.

Then two days later, with two grandchildren, and others of the family, we and hundreds of other families went to Nyman’s Gardens, looked after by the National Trust. The grounds are extensive with a walled garden, a rose garden, flower and shrub borders and huge areas of woods. 

There was a special feature to attract families. An exhibition of original drawings from the film The Snowman was housed in the partially ruined old house. There were also five Snow dogs to be found on a trail, which also included knitted scarves and tree trunks wrapped in wool. It was great fun with lots of photo opportunities. 

As an experiment real dogs were allowed into the grounds for the festive period. So not only were there scores of children but also a variety of breeds of dogs of all shapes and sizes. Dogs are reputed to be our ‘best friends’. So many people establish relationships of mutual trust and affection with their dogs. But it makes me wonder about our relationship with other species. We have domesticated so many animals, some as pets, others as sources of food. Should they trust us?

Vegans have made the choice not to depend on the exploitation of animals. There has been a terrific expansion of Veganism over the last few years. Many people are finding vegetarianism not enough. If being a vegetarian is a choice made on ethical grounds, then it has to be recognised that it involves compromises. Using milk and it’s various products involves the slaughter of calves in order to maintain a dairy herd. The huge demand for eggs has led to the killing of male chicks to cut costs of egg production. For those of us brought up to enjoy milk, cream and cheese it is a hard choice to forego them. Eggs too are such a staple in cooking that to do without seems almost impossible. Alternatives to milk are more available now, and ways around the use of eggs are becoming more common. Does this mean that we should all become Vegan?

We are learning that the effects of humanity on the earth are devastating for thousands of species, and the earth itself is being changed. If there is to be a relationship of mutual trust and affection between us and the rest of the earth, then we have to change. At the moment we are betraying the trust that has been placed in us. We are not being good stewards of the earth. We are in fact destroying ourselves as well as other life. 

The love many of us show to our dogs and cats, horses and birds, and all the others pets, we need to show to all of life. And more than that, we need to change the relationship from that of dependency, where animals have to adjust to our way of life, to one of mutual respect where we make accommodation to the needs of other species.

Faith means trust. Let us behave so that the earth can trust us. 

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