At the volcano's rim, orchids were in bloom. We had just climbed the steep trail up through the island's rain forest. For several hours we clambered over rocks and made our way around the huge buttress roots of giant trees holding fast to the thin soil.
It was worth the climb: The pale orange orchids, like jewels painted on an emerald green canvas. Hummingbirds. The awesome sight of the volcano's long-quiet cauldron ringed in mist. The view through the treetops to the perfectly blue ocean and the distant Caribbean islands.
Yet also in this beautiful place, we learned a lesson about the hazards of misguided planning. As we broke out some cheese and fruit from our packs, a mongoose crept slowly from under the bushes, looking for a handout. Our guide told us that the mongoose wasn't native to the island but had been brought over from India during the last century in an effort to control the rodent population. But the plan failed. Instead of hunting the rats, the mongooses found the island's ground-nesting birds to be easy prey. They stole the eggs. Species after species were wiped out. Now, there are fewer birds - and even more rats.
It's the kind of story too often recounted because of misdirected efforts to manage the environment. And the same kinds of issues also confront the world of business, government, and community affairs. We even confront them in our personal lives. A problem or challenge looms; we think we have a solution; and then it just doesn't work. Why? Perhaps we didn't have all the information we needed. Perhaps fear clouded something we needed to see. Maybe we were just trying too hard to have things our own way.
Whenever the human mind attempts to rely solely on its own resources or to determine a course of action based on material measures, there are inherent limitations. This is one of the reasons spiritual inspiration is so important. It moves us out of ignorance or fear. It takes us beyond personal opinions and limited vision. It opens us to unlimited possibilities, to sure and certain direction, to healing solutions, to God's purpose. Only as the mental environment of uncertainty, doubt, lack, and so on is cleared do we find the earth's environment, as well as the landscape of our own lives, made whole and beautiful.
Turning to God in prayer, trusting in His law of perfect good, provides the surest course forward and the plan of action that brings the greatest blessing. This is true whether we're working to resolve global environmental challenges or more personal, close-to-home issues.
God is the infinite, all-knowing Mind. He is omnipotent. Yielding to God, divine Mind, gives us the spiritual insight and intuition to find any solution that's needed. In our prayer, we discover that we are actually God's reflection, Mind's expression. Limitation, misdirection, and shortsightedness have no place in omnipotent Mind or its expression.
The lessons of the Bible show clearly the healing results and truly practical solutions that come as we seek the inspiration of prayer that reveals God's direction. Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper, wrote substantially on this subject and on how to enlarge the human capacities. She pointed to the truly liberating power of the prayer that seeks to do God's will. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," for example, she writes, "... prayer, coupled with a fervent habitual desire to know and do the will of God, will bring us into all Truth" (pg. 11).
It is really hard to imagine anything that could provide surer solutions than being brought "into all Truth." Prayer that reveals God's plan and purpose is the prayer of solutions and healing, of renewal and regeneration - for the environment and for our own lives.
Thou shalt rejoice
before the Lord thy God
in all that thou puttest
thine hands unto.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society