Recently I came across the 2015 film “Dare to Be Wild,” which shares the inspiring and unique story of Mary Reynolds. Her unconventional and unmanicured gardens, celebrating and appreciating nature just as she saw it in her native Irish countryside, made her the youngest-ever gold winner in the 2002 prestigious British garden competition, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
There’s a scene in the film where Reynolds looks out over a desert landscape in Ethiopia that was once green and thriving, and she suddenly imagines it completely filled in again with lush trees and plants. As the scene shifts to reflect her vision, I was reminded of a prophecy in the Bible, in the book of Isaiah. It says: “Thirsty deserts will be glad; barren lands will celebrate and blossom with flowers. Deserts will bloom everywhere and sing joyful songs.… Everyone will see the wonderful splendor of the Lord our God” (Isaiah 35:1, 2, Contemporary English Version).
Read literally, the imagery presented in Isaiah’s prophecy is something I’m sure most of us would love to see fully actualized. And the beautiful words might inspire us to wonder if the flourishing of our Earth in this way is really a possibility.
But beyond the literal sense of the Scriptures, I’ve learned that there is a deeper sense, a spiritual sense, to such passages in the Bible. To me, Isaiah’s prophecy points to the fact that God’s creation, including each one of us, is created spiritually by God, and as a result must also thrive. To be spiritual is to be good and pure – both of which are qualities of God, Spirit. When we understand our pure spiritual identity, we’re freed from believing that we are mortal and condemned to matter-based living. Through the teachings of Christian Science, I’ve also learned that we can expect to see the reality of our spiritual and true identity expressed in practical ways on earth. As we understand our nature as God’s spiritual creation, this nurtures the desire in us to do what is right – that which blesses the earth and all its inhabitants.
I grew up in a home situated on a hill in a redwood forest. Those majestic giants were so close that I could reach out and touch their bark from the balcony of my third-floor bedroom. This environment nurtured my love for the natural world, as well as my desire to be environmentally responsible in my actions and decisions.
Later, when I became more serious about my spiritual development and more dedicated to praying about the issues in the world, my growing love for God, good, further inspired my desire to be caring and thoughtful of my surroundings. Through my study of Christian Science I realized that the entire creation of God, divine Spirit, is spiritual, cared for, and flawless. This helped me understand that it’s natural for all of us to see and express something of those same qualities of beauty and care in the world around us. And this brought a positive change to my daily habits, and increased my thoughtfulness about recycling and being less consumer-oriented.
I’ve found it helpful to remember that the natural beauty of our planet has its source in the infinite and enduring design of our creator, God, and this design cannot truly be lost or obscured since the divine Mind and its ideas are eternal. “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy illustrates it this way: “Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens, – all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect” (p. 240). Caring for our planet and preserving its natural beauty can seem overwhelming if we simply get caught up in the problems of desertification, pollution, waste management, etc. Fresh possibilities open up as we look to the reality of Spirit and the harmony, beauty, and balance that constitute spiritual creation.
The focus of this year’s Earth Day is to mobilize the world to end plastic pollution. We can each do our part in very practical ways to forward that goal. But we can also mobilize our thought, through prayer, to more clearly see how we all reflect our intelligent creator. Such a clear view of our relation to God can definitely improve human action. As this knowledge is known and accepted, nothing can stop humanity, and earth, from progressing and flourishing! As Isaiah promises, “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!” (55:12, New Living Translation).