Keeping one's thought and environment garbage-free

A Christian Science perspective.

Scientists estimate that millions of pounds of debris wind up in the oceans every year, and much of it is trapped in the swirling currents of what's known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – the world's biggest landfill. Some estimate it to be twice the size of Texas, with most of the debris consisting of small plastic particles that lie at or just below the surface of the water.

Obviously this growing environmental hazard needs to be dealt with, although no one is quite sure what to do. One of the questions people often ask is, "How did this happen?" Perhaps part of the problem is an "out of sight, out of mind" phenomenon. The vastness of the world's oceans is incomprehensible. They're far away and out of consciousness. Garbage is thrown into the ocean, boxes fall off a freighter, only to end up at this confluence of currents.

It could seem simple either to ignore the problem (because it is way out there in mid-ocean) or hope for international programs or human innovation to find a solution – sometime down the line. But while we should expect and demand a cleaner ocean, real change begins first in thought. For the spiritual thinker, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a signal for prayer – and a reminder that what one holds in consciousness can't be too far from experience. Prayer in support of a solution can begin with taking stock of one's own mental household, including bringing to the surface what could be called "mental garbage buildup."

The obvious solution to a polluted environment is a purified one. And prayer can appeal to the true source of purity, which is God. We can begin by acknowledging our own direct relationship to God and the purity that is ours to express as His reflection. We can address states of thought such as apathy, ignorance, or excess by seeking to express alertness, self-knowledge, and balance – all qualities of the divine Mind. And prayer that emphasizes the basic desire to love one's neighbor, to think consciously about the choices one makes, and to see that no problem is ever out of divine Love's reach, brings about harmonious solutions as we consistently affirm our oneness with our Father-Mother God.

Although the conventional view of life as mortal would argue for a material "cause," it's only possible to redeem the earth and humanity by understanding the one divine Cause of all good, and then live in accord with it. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 160).

The individual whose consciousness is centered on spiritual reality is like a light that helps others see healing solutions and make decisions for the good of the whole. The same prayer that eliminates the "local" or personal conditions that impede progress also has to have a larger, global effect.

How can prayer affect something thousands of miles out at sea? Because Christian Science treatment, which affirms the scientific divine laws governing the universe, knows no barriers. "The 'still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 559). This applies to the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean, even as it shines light on the remote places in consciousness, where the burden of failures, frustrations, or fears may have accumulated. None of these has an actual cause – they all come from mistakenly believing we're separated from God. But it isn't enough just to say the words. We need to trust them and prove them within and without.

Some proof of thoughts and attitudes changing is already taking place. In 2007, a climber organized "Yosemite Facelift" – an effort to organize thousands of volunteers each year to pick up the trash left behind by visitors at Yosemite National Park. The first year over 20 tons of trash was removed from nearly 100 miles of trails. On the Hawaiian Islands, cleanup programs also bring volunteers to the beaches to clean up trash.

To bless the earth instead of pollute it, mentally or physically; to make a positive impact on humanity, rather than a harmful one; to think not just about what we take in, but what we give out – all this will do much to purify the landscape of our thought, and therefore our world. And it will support the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophetic promise that "an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it" (Isa. 35:8).

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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