My little dog, Lily, and I have rediscovered a nature area near our house. When we walk there, we see several different species of wild birds flying overhead or swimming peacefully on the small lake. The tall grasses rustle as we walk by, and our feet crunch on the pebbled trail.
While Lily sniffs the springtime breeze, I take in the majestic Rocky Mountain peaks. The mountains, along with the nesting birds, gentle breezes, and budding trees, stir my heart. I’m reminded of the words of naturalist and Colorado homesteader Enos Mills: “A climb up the Rockies will develop a love for nature, strengthen one’s appreciation of the beautiful world outdoors, and put one in tune with the Infinite.” I’ve especially found this to be true when I think of what the magnificence of the earth points to – the grandeur of spiritual reality, the universe created by God.
One of the psalms in the Bible comes to mind: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof” (Psalms 24:1). When I consider that everything is created by God, divine Spirit, it makes sense to me that the true nature and substance of all creation is like Him – meaning, it’s spiritual and good. In the textbook of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy defines Earth as: “A sphere; a type of eternity and immortality, which are likewise without beginning or end.
“To material sense, earth is matter; to spiritual sense, it is a compound idea” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 585).
Loving nature and protecting the planet is what Earth Day, observed in the United States each year on April 22, is all about. But I know I can do more for the environment by looking beyond the physical, to understand more of the glories that God has created.
When the earth and its environment are viewed through the material senses, limitations such as fragility, extinction, and pollution can become the focus. But seeing our planet through a spiritual sense of things brings into focus the awe-inspiring solidity of the spiritual qualities that nature hints at. Beauty, grace, and strength are a sampling of the eternal, spiritual elements nature symbolizes. And praying to better understand the true, spiritual nature of God’s creation naturally impels us to care for the environment around us and inspires solutions to problems.
Christ Jesus proved that seeing this way, with our spiritual sense, brings healing. Mrs. Eddy spoke of this when she wrote: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (Science and Health, pp. 476-477).
A correct view of man heals, and so does a correct view of the environment. Jesus didn’t let the material senses define God’s creation for him. He insisted on the fact of spiritual perfection right where imperfection seemed to be.
I recently read an account in one of the Monitor’s sister publications, the Christian Science Sentinel, that mentioned some peach trees had become blighted (see “For many years I have been …,” May 31, 1958). Through prayer, the author recognized that the qualities of “… individuality, beauty, usefulness, and so on” that the trees represented were from God, divine Life, and so were spiritual and permanent. This revelation ended the blight, and the trees yielded good fruit.
In the stillness of prayer, we can feel the infinite presence of the Divine, and affirm the reality of the intact, indestructible, and healthy nature of God’s spiritual creation. This is the highest form of appreciation we can show for the environment. Such prayer has also led me to take practical steps to better care for the planet.
Mrs. Eddy wrote, “All nature teaches God’s love to man …” (Science and Health, p. 326). Praying to better understand the spiritual reality and splendor of God’s creation, which is “very good” (Genesis 1:31), is something we can all do. So, on this Earth Day, while planting trees, cleaning up parks, or appreciating our planet in some other way, let’s each take a moment to look beyond the surface of things, and affirm the present, perfect, spiritual nature of God’s creation.