Christ, in a dialog with the rulers of His time, refused to ask His followers to be quiet. His answer is very instructive:
As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:37-40).
It is a profound proclamation that what Christ has to say, and Who He is, are not just appeals to the religious questions of humanity, but an answer to the very universe itself. The very stones would cry out.
In truth, Creation has been crying out since the very beginning of creation. St. Paul refers to creation as “made subject to futility,” because man himself had sinned and could only live in a broken world – a world whose very brokenness would help bring man to his right mind – to repentance before God.
Today we live in a time when the reigning ideology (as an ideology) is environmentalism. The only absolutes taught in our schools today are environmental absolutes. The result is a predictable concern for the environment – but not a Christian-informed concern for the environment. Thus the environmental teachings of the Patriarch of Constantinople (the so-called “Green” Patriarch) are likely to be heard in terms other than those he speaks, and simply as an endorsement of political environmentalism.
There is a true “Green” that belongs to the gospel. I would say that one of the proper characteristics of this “Green” is an understanding that Christ is not speaking metaphorically when He says the “very stones would cry out.” In truth, many may absolutize the creation (or the earth) for their own political ends, but they do not believe that stones can “cry out.” That is to say, though they care about stones, they do not actually know stones at all.
This is a witness of the saints of Orthodoxy, whose many stories of miraculous relationships with nature litter the landscape of Orthodox hagiography. In the presence of saints, wild animals become tame. In their presence flowers bloom out of season. All of this is similar to the gospel image of Christ, in whose presence and at whose word the winds and sea became quiet, and the waters became as a solid surface.
Environmentalism, true Christian environmentalism, begins with the repentance of Christians and our seeking of true union with God. Mere care for the earth is a poor political substitute (not to be despised) for the ontological reality promised us in Scripture.
The silence of the saints found in the depths of the heart is also a silence that can hear the crying of the stones and the voice of creation itself. It is thus that creation loves the saints as creation loves God.
We must all begin where we are. We should be good stewards of creation and recognize in every stone, a fellow creature of the One God. But we should not stop at mere environmentalism lest we become pawns in someone else’s game. We press forward to the goal of all things being gathered together in Christ, the great environmental movement, in which not only stones sing, but all of creation rejoices. What music there will be!