Treat invasive species – through prayer

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Say the word "kudzu" to someone who lives in the American South, and that person might describe something resembling the city-gobbling plants of old B movies. Originally used in the 1940s to control erosion in the South, kudzu can grow as much as 60 feet in a season. Similarly, the aquatic fern known as giant salvinia, also affecting the South mostly, can double in size every two to four days and cover 40 square miles in three months.

Nonnative species are an environmental concern affecting the US economy in profound ways. Control of alien plant and animal species and their effects costs millions of dollars annually. Nor is the US the only country affected by this problem. A 2005 international workshop on "Invasive Plants in Mediterranean Type Regions of the World," held in France, attracted 110 experts from 24 countries.

Much work to control invasive species is already under way, but as nations grow even more interconnected, it's likely this will call for greater cooperation. Such efforts are often slowed down by political and social issues, as well as testing that may take years to complete.

Prayer is one effort that can be undertaken now. It will also help inspire efforts to uncover workable solutions. A spiritual concept that supports this work is Mary Baker Eddy's insight that there is only one Mind, or God. That Mind has infinite understanding and knowledge of its own creation.

Because God is Spirit, this creation, which includes each one of us, is spiritual and designed to be harmonious. In other words, it is meant to "work." It doesn't include destructive elements that war with one another, and as we affirm this in prayer, we can expect to see harmony and balance restored.

Since you and I are also spiritual beings, this state of existence is the reality for us. Our prayers to identify ourselves and the environment with these facts will make a difference. Prayer doesn't just stay inside our heads, so to speak. The effect of thought goes into the general mental atmosphere and strengthens all who are working toward good, providing fresh angles for inspiration and action.

It's unlikely that people in Jesus' day had to deal with global invaders on today's scale. But one of his parables offers some interesting guidance. It tells of a man whose wheat fields were invaded by tares, which were put there by an enemy. When they are young, tare plants look much like wheat; only as they mature are the differences visible. So the householder told his worried servants that they should wait until the harvest to root out the tares, when the two plants would be distinguishable (see Matt. 13:24-30).

As I read this parable from the standpoint of dealing with invasive species, it struck me that the tares were sown "while men slept" – during a period of inattention. To some extent, this is true with the spread of invasive species today. For example, boaters unwittingly have helped spread the zebra mussel, which can attach to their boats or be present in bilge water.

Through prayer, we can recognize who is in control of our mental and spiritual environment. As the Bible puts it, "in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). This spiritual fact is the basis for our conviction that – again, turning to the Bible – "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Ps. 24:1). That God-created environment is spiritual and complete, although we sometimes lose sight of the fact that this is the environment that we are to live in and to cherish here and now, not at some future time.

Looking at our circumstances in this spiritual light, we gain an increased desire to live in a way that harmonizes with this view and to take what steps we can to renew our spiritual vision of it.

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