"I'm riding my bicycle to work," a woman said on a call-in radio program in response to a question about what people can do to slow down global warming. Since emissions from gasoline-powered automobiles are considered primary contributors to global warming, she was commuting by bicycle.
Human actions and their impact on the environment are detailed in the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released last month. While many aspects of the report deserve our prayers and prayer-inspired actions, one that stood out to me was that a rise of only a little over 3 degrees F. of the earth's temperature can result in the possible extinction of almost 30 percent of species within the next 100 years.
That may sound rather abstract, but even if we think only in terms of the creatures that are important to humanity's well-being, it's sobering. Bees and butterflies pollinate fruit, birds devour insect pests, and wild plants and animals are sources of food for people in developed and developing cultures. As I read it, I knew I needed to pray.
One thought that helped me was the spiritual fact that the will of God, of Life itself, is always for life, never for death or extinction. And God doesn't see His creation through the lens of matter.
According to the Scriptural account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, all was created by God, Spirit. This means that the reality of our universe is spiritual and founded on divine Love, even though this may not be obvious or even recognizable in some places.
Recognizing the eternal spiritual nature of God's creation doesn't allow us to ignore threats to the existence of any species, however. A prayer that is universal among Christians, the Lord's Prayer, includes the statement "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, interpreted that line in this way: Enable us to know, – as in heaven, so on earth, – God is omnipotent, supreme" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 17).
To respect God's will for life, we will want to adopt life-based attitudes and actions. This may involve changes in lifestyle, if that's necessary, or the active seeking of creative ways to preserve the planet and its inhabitants. To accept the thought that reality is spiritual and eternal will help lift us out of feelings of hopelessness or apathy.
Instead of being discouraged by what seems like an inevitable loss of species or a problem that's too large to solve, we can rely on the foundation that God's will is for the preservation of life, never for death. Our prayers – and actions prayer may inspire us to take – are an effective way to affirm that God's will for life can be done and is being done right now.
If God, Life, is never for a moment extinct, then we can trust Life to guide us toward Life-affirming thoughts and actions. We can discipline ourselves to think in life-affirming ways – to love instead of hate, to be kind instead of react in anger, to strive for intelligent solutions instead of short-term expedience. And behind each choice we make, when we pray for God's will to be done on earth, we will find ways to live with that will – the loving will that doesn't just affirm the life of animals, sea creatures, and plants but also supports and affirms our lives.
One other thing that comforts me is that however authoritative the report may be, it isn't the final word. Those losses are not inevitable, because we can take steps right now in the way we think about creation and respond to it that will begin to move life in a more spiritual direction. Each of us can do this through our prayers and our individual choices. Some of us may be inspired to become very active in reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants; some of us may only do a little. But each step will help change the future and reveal new ways that God's will for life is a present, planet-preserving power.
Adapted from spirituality.com.