As someone who has long felt a need to save the whales and the earth, on Earth Day and year-round, I’d been feeling a bit inadequate lately as to my ability to contribute to these efforts, especially in the face of global climate change. A scriptural text caught my attention, however, and shed bright new light on how we can effectively help our planet regardless of economic or political constraints:
“[T]he sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;... because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:18-21, Revised Standard Version).
I’d read that passage before, but this time it struck me that “the creation” is not awaiting preservation of its current – often endangered – state, though we frequently equate preserving with “saving” the earth. Rather, it’s eagerly expecting transformation, and the key to that lies in humanity’s own transformation of consciousness – “the revealing of the sons of God.” That is, our individual and collective awakening to glimpse the spiritual nature of ourselves and our earth frees both us and our fellow creatures from the “bondage” of a merely material existence, just as waking from a dream reveals the true colors (not the distorted dream shades) of our surroundings.
From my study and practice of Christian Science, I’d glimpsed that everyone is “the spiritual image and likeness of God,” and the earth is “a compound idea,” as Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, explained in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (pp. 591, 585). Yet that biblical message seemed quite a lot to contemplate until I realized I had actually experienced its promised revelation and freedom on a couple of occasions.
At one time when I was keeping chickens, I was outside watching a few troop across the lawn, and I noticed one of the hens walking with a particular stumbling gait. My first thought was “Oh, no, she’s got that virus that paralyzes them” (as we’d seen this symptom before). But then came a strong spiritual intuition, based on my growing understanding of the spiritual nature of God’s creation, that “No, she doesn’t have to experience that.” It was one of those “aha” moments when one catches a clearer glimpse of divine reality. Immediately the hen straightened up and walked normally, and I don’t recall her or any other of the many chickens there having that problem again.
On another occasion (as previously shared in this Christian Science Monitor column, April 22, 2009), I witnessed the recovery of a beehive, which transformed from a queenless handful near winter’s end to a thriving colony some weeks later. In this case, my first reaction upon seeing the few remaining bees was that they didn’t have a chance to survive, and how sad that was for us and for the whole ecosystem. Reports of bee “colony collapse” had been in the news, and with warmer weather still a month away, it seemed impossible these few worker bees could last long enough to “re-queen” the colony. But then just behind that came the more spiritually based thought – and a holy “aha” moment – that they had the innate intelligence to live. Praying revealed to me that none of us are helpless creatures because we are each expressions of God’s goodness. And the bees survived.
As I’ve reflected on that scriptural text about the “glorious liberty of the children of God,” it’s been liberating to realize that we all have the ability, right within consciousness, and so right wherever we are, to help our earth and fellow creatures. Good efforts to save the whales or even halt climate change can’t be limited by material boundaries or resources when we begin with transformed thought. From that starting point, our own spiritual nature and the earth’s is revealed. Knowing the truth, as Jesus explained, makes us free (see John 8:32). And it can save the earth, too.