IS it possible to rescue nature from the things that would despoil it, and restore earth's loveliness throughout the globe? Yes, it is--and our very love of the natural environment can start to show us the way.
Some people feel closer to God in the woods or on the sea than at any other time. ``The Indians,'' writes Mary Baker Eddy in her book Science and Health with Key to Scriptures, ``caught some glimpses of the underlying reality, when they called a certain beautiful lake `the smile of the Great Spirit''' (p. 477). Don't we often feel inspired by nature's beauty because it hints of God's presence and majesty?
Yet, nature isn't God. God is divine Spirit. Thinking of God as nature is the basis of pantheism, which misinterprets God altogether. Christ Jesus said, John's Gospel records, ``God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth'' (4:24).
God's creation isn't material at all. It doesn't even include matter. Referring to pagan sun-worshipers, Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, comments in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, ``They were content to look no higher than the symbol'' (p. 151). Trees, oceans, mountains, are symbols that hint at God's spiritual creation. Trees might symbolize majesty and perseverance. Oceans hint at oneness and grace, while mountains express solidity and the heights of inspiration. Yet, we can't stop there. We must look ``higher than the symbol'' in order to perceive, if only faintly sometimes, God's, Spirit's, nature. There is truly only one creation--God's spiritual creation.
We enjoy--and of course, it's right to do so--God's spiritual qualities, or expression. Instead of searching for God in matter, however, we find both God and His creation when we start our reasoning from the basis of divine Spirit as the only reality. Mrs. Eddy gives us profound insight into the nature of divine evolution in the chapter ``Genesis'' in Science and Health. She writes: ``To mortal mind, the universe is liquid, solid, and aeriform. Spiritually interpreted, rocks and mountains stand for solid and grand ideas'' (p. 511). When the outcome of the spiritual universe is clear to us, we see how it reflects the glory of God. This appropriation would never allow us to defile it with mortal thoughts of greed, selfishness, and so forth. The appreciation for God's work naturally leads to an appreciation for our human environment as well as our mental environment.
Knowing that we don't depend, ultimately, on ``mother earth'' but on the one true cause and creator, our Father-Mother God, enabled me to pray effectively for myself when I became sick after drinking polluted water. I claimed for myself with authority that God's spiritual creation isn't in danger, it is maintained by divine Spirit, and therefore is exempt from mismanagement. My thought changed and I was healed that same day.
Later, as I thought about how I'd been healed, I realized how my prayer actually contributed to healing the environment. Because human experience is the outcome of thought, changing my thought changed my environment. Rather than attempt to change thought through human will, I understood that God's perfect, intact creation--which includes me--has God's law supporting it. It was clear to me that God's creation is always pure; it cannot be polluted. This neutralized the pollution in the water I drank, and rendered it unable to harm me.
No disaster can harm or deplete the activity of God's law. Knowing this doesn't trivialize disaster--it brings divinely based power to bear on human needs. I had seen a small example of the way we can turn to prayer to restore earth's beauty and purity. God's infinite goodness can't ever be depleted or misused. And understanding that all our resources are actually spiritual resources is fundamental to healing the effects of strip-mine scars, oil spills, and other forms of environmental degradation.
God's perfect creation is what we all depend on, and is what the magnificence of nature points to. From the most simple to the most majestic, mountains, animals, seas, and icecaps hint at the permanent place of every good idea in reflecting and expressing God. And the loveliness of this spiritual reality can never be polluted or despoiled.
The earth is the Lord's,
and the fulness thereof;
and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it
upon the seas,
and established it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend
into the hill of the Lord?
or who shall stand
in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands,
and a pure heart;
who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity,
nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive
the blessing from the Lord,
from the God of his salvation.