Imagine that you lived in a world where there were little to no trees, flowers, bushes, mountains, streams, rivers, animals, or beaches.
Let’s imagine that because of the lack of the things above, the world was very bland and colorless. The air smelled stale and felt heavy. The sounds were blank and dull. Everything tasted fake and left you feeling empty even when you were full.
Every time you stepped outside, each breath stung your lungs and your eyes pulled in a mix of grey and gone. Your heart could no longer rise with the sound of birds singing or the sight of blazing orange and yellow leaves falling silently to the ground.
The sun was no longer bright and happy, but dangerous and harmful. Seeing a wild animal would be a rare occasion and another reminder of all that has been lost.
Can you imagine what this would feel like? Does your heart hurt and your soul suffocate with the thought of it?
It does for me.
Would this be a world in which you would want to find yourself?
If not, then these images should scare you, because they are closer to being a reality than they are to being fiction.
Humans are slowly but irreparably damaging the earth and its varied ecosystems. We are on the verge of taking the world to a point of no return when it comes to climate change.
My above scenario would be the ultimate end result of the damage we are inflicting on a daily basis. We are systematically destroying forests, rivers, mountains, beaches, plains, oceans, animal populations, and even the air we breathe.
Outside of the obvious negative health and survival effects for humans, there is another devastating outcome of this damage – the death of our faith.
I went to the beach with a friend a few years ago and as we lay in the sand, listening to the seagulls and the slow and steady ocean waves, she looked at me and said “this is where I find God.”
When I asked her to tell me more, she went on to say that it is in nature, on the beach and in the forest and sitting on her back porch with the sun on her face, that she truly experiences God. She has yet to truly feel God in any other place, and that is why she holds nature to such sacred heights.
If she didn’t have the beauty of nature, where would my friend be? Does she deserve to lose her connection with God so that we can drive our cars a few more miles, or eat our food at slightly cheaper prices, or turn our air conditioners up a little more?
Are those small luxuries really more important than her God?
Are they more important than your God?
The world was not created with and through and by God so that it could be destroyed by us. And yet here we are, day by day, destroying that which God declares as Good.
Thomas Berry remarked that if we were to have been created in a world that had a landscape similar to the moon, our faith would be dull and boring.
Thankfully, we were created in a world that has vast diversity and beauty in every nook and cranny you can find. And as a result, our faith is lively and creative and fantastic.
But we are in danger of moving ourselves into a world where the beauty of nature is gone. And with it goes the creative and beautiful faith we know.
We are shifting from the grace of nature to the grey of ignorance.
With every forest that is destroyed, with every river that is poisoned, with every species that becomes extinct, our hearts should break a little more. And not break in the way that puts us into hopeless depression, but the kind of break that angers us and moves us to action.
We are all responsible for the physical and spiritual danger that humanity now faces because of our careless exploitation of the world.
But we also have the power to be a part of the solution, if only we could be stirred to action.
I am stirred to action to protect the health of my future children and to protect the faith of my current friends and to protect the world in which God so beautifully created.
I am stirred to action because I know that I would be lost without a forest to walk through, without a stream to wade through, and without a mountain to awe at.
My faith and health depend on God’s goodness as shown through nature.
What do yours depend on?