Written by Talitha Arnold
"And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." - Revelation 22:1-6
How do you pray for the earth?
Navajos begin each morning with prayers of thanksgiving for the rising sun, air, water, and all the gifts of the Creator. The Psalms we share with our Jewish brothers and sisters sing of all creatures, from rock badgers to the great whales, that God made "just for the sport of it." (Psalm 104).
The Psalms also acknowledge our dependency upon God's care for creation. "You visit the earth and water it," affirms Psalm 65, "you water its furrows abundantly." They affirm creation's thanks in return: "The valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy."
But sometimes our prayers for the earth are laments. Isaiah despaired over the king who "made the world like a desert" and cut down all the trees. We’ve seen such visions. In New Mexico and Navajoland this summer, toxic waste from an abandoned mine turned the Animas River a sickly orange. In California, drought-ravaged trees went up in flames. Like the prophets, we have reason for lament.
But like them, our prayers for the earth can also be visions of a renewed creation. Abandoned on Patmos, knowing well the devastation brought by the Roman Empire, John of Revelation saw "a new heaven and a new earth." Trees with leaves for the healing of the nations, a crystal clear river.
And the One on the throne said, "These words are trustworthy and true." John could trust his vision of a renewed earth. So can we. God never leaves us only with lament. God gives us the vision we need to renew our love for this earth, so we can help renew this earth.
Help us, God, to see your intention for this earth, so that we might love it as you do. Amen.