We have a children's story in worship every week and thankfully I have nothing to do with scheduling it and we have many people willing to take a turn on the schedule. But last week when the children came forward for a story no adult stood up so I took an impromptu turn.
What to talk about? Well I told a story from my fly-fishing experience the previous week. I asked the children if they ever fish or like to fish. Then I told them that I like to fish and I usually make it a practice to 'catch and release' the fish I catch, and I explained what that meant.
Then I related that during the past week I had caught a fish that did not survive as I brought it into my net. I talked about being sad about the fish dying. I then told them that I kept the fish, brought it home, and ate it for dinner.
I asked them if they liked to eat fish or burgers or chicken. I asked them if they knew that the meat they ate was once a living animal. I talked some about how important it is for us to know that we live in a web of life where some animals give their lives so that other animals can live. I finished up by talk about my feelings of reverence for life and explained what that word meant to me.
Did they get it? I had one parent relate to me that their child had not a clue what I was talking about apart from fishing. I had another parent tell me that they thought I was making a commercial for PETA. Ha. I had another parent tell me that just the previous week their child had said to them after watching a tv show that had chickens running around that the child had said "chicken, we eat chicken" which had prompted an interesting conversation and gratitude from the parent that I had picked up the subject while it was fresh on the child's mind.
I have vivid childhood memories of working on relatives farms and learning first hand that the animals I enjoyed (cows) or feared (pigs) would soon be on the dinner table. I have the same kind of childhood memories from fishing and hunting. I learned about the cycle of life; I learned about reverence as I watched animals die so that I could eat.
I also have vivid memories of taking my suburban raised daughter to a farm when she was a youngster and her breaking into tears as she protested that "my milk does not come from a cow it comes from the store." Living in an urban area there can be a certain disconnect between the food we eat and the real life and work that brings us that food.
I think we have a responsibility in our religious communities to somehow make that connection. Whether it is our food or our consumer lifestyle or our energy consumption: some animal or some plant or some person is giving their life so we can live. I think about that every time I go fishing.