Line up your friends. Put those who are environmentally green at one end and those who are not at the other. Some will be distressed by the recent presidential election in the United States and what it foreshadows concerning environmental policy. Others undoubtedly lean the opposite way and happily foresee environmental concerns more properly considered within the context of their economic impact. Perhaps a third group of friends stands in the middle and is simply unsure what to expect.
What about you? Where do you stand? Wherever that is, it's good to recall that no political or environmental position bans you from the common ground of prayer. We all share the opportunity to pray for the purity of our world. When rightly focused, prayer is helpful. No, it's not a tool for pushing a political agenda, but it's useful in finding answers that have neither an economic nor an environmental downside. Prayer brings creative thinking, inspired thinking, purely spiritual thinking, to bear on issues of concern. More productive actions, ones that don't do harm but do forward needed solutions, then follow. Whether one is delighted or dismayed by the likely environmental direction of the Bush administration, there is a higher, spiritual vantage point worth seeking and attaining.
One vantage point close to my home - a nearby mountaintop - offers a view of the Los Angeles skyline. Of course, that disappears on many days when the smog smudges over an otherwise sparkling panorama. The same thing holds true for Houston, Denver, Mexico City, Beijing, and countless other cities. Those beautiful cityscapes are often lost to pollution-filled skies. Contrast those hazy scenes with a word picture given in the Bible: "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14). This scene requires a different lookout from that of a simple hilltop. It comes into view only from that higher, spiritual vantage point.
As thought moves more toward the Most High, more toward God's nature and presence, we begin to look outward from a higher position. More signs of the divine presence fill our view. God, who is pure Mind, knows His own unsullied creation as spiritual, unpolluted, and unpollutable. This is divine fact. And divine facts embrace and transform life. In other words, the cleansing action of God's pure knowing appears in ways that are kind and healing to the environment. And to humanity.
Think of it. God's earth - your earth - filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, rather than filled with pollution. Holding to this spiritual vision is prayer. Regardless of your political stripes, no matter what your environmental color, you can engage in this prayer. And this prayer - which in a sense might be called green, even if the one making it isn't - will forward what we all want, a healthier planet, regardless of our political differences.
Too often, the literal smog choking our cities seems a metaphor for a mental haze composed of political rancor, finger pointing, and self-serving ends, which put the blame on the "other" side, whoever they are. But God-inspired prayer lifts us above that haze into the knowledge of the glory of God - into the understanding that God is constantly exhaling the atmosphere of pure consciousness. Then rancor and blame - rarely sources for real problem-solving - diminish. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote, "Pure Mind gives out an atmosphere that heals and saves" ("Miscellaneous Writings," p. 260). That's the atmosphere we all truly inhabit and gladly inhale.
Are environmental concerns too complex in nature, too vast in scope, to be susceptible to something as unheralded as prayer? Christ Jesus' ministry suggests otherwise. Remember, he stilled a storm at sea. Perhaps that hints that something as big as a storm, even as big as the environment of the whole earth, is still smaller than God. And subject to divine purifying action.
Praying from a higher vantage point helps us to glimpse a purely spiritual scene. When such glimpses add up, they reveal answers that previously lay hidden in the haze of uninspired thought. Regardless of who is at the political helm, we can, through prayer, provide better care for our planet.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society