A Spiritual Approach to Healing the Earth and Ourselves
For Christians today, there is a need to get away from separatist thinking where we as humanity are one thing, while nature and creation are another. As a society, we have created a world that is about ourselves, and over time, we have isolated ourselves from living in harmony with the natural world around us.
What I am proposing is a change in the directional flow of our thinking. Instead of thinking of ourselves as Christians looking outward at the natural world, we instead think of ourselves as Christians living in the natural world. From a perspective of balance and harmony, we are in fact made of the earth that was created by God. Humanity, God, and nature are thus in a process of interconnectedness. We are actually of the earth and nature. It is who we are.
When Psalm 42 speaks of a living God or when we speak of Jesus as the resurrected son of the living God, we are no longer talking of an abstract concept. It is something we tangibly experience. It is easy for me to define this theology in my own personal witness in that I simply feel better and am spiritually nourished by spending time in nature.
I believe God created us to be in nature and live in harmony in nature. It has been a predominant theme through out my life to spend as much time as possible in nature. I have finally gotten to the point at the age of 50 to be okay with that, even though our society is not geared for that kind of lifestyle. I now work part time in ministry and reserve the remainder of my time for being in the natural world.
I have been persuaded in my education to define this theology beyond my own witness, especially toward the environmental crisis and climate change. I am drawn toward actions defined by the UN as nature-based solutions. I see these solutions as a way to live with care and compassion for the earth in our everyday activities. One example of a nature-based solution in my own life this past summer was the planting of three pollinator gardens at the church I serve. These gardens were created at a relatively low cost with some labor. They have already been making an impact by creating a habitat for the endangered Monarch caterpillars and the endangered Brown Patch Bumble Bee.
By taking action through nature-based solutions, one also comes to the realization of how spiritually nourishing and healing time in nature is.
While it is important to fix the environmental crisis with technological changes, policies, and clean energy, perhaps the greater meaning here is that we need to fix our spiritual connection to the earth and God. Nature-based solutions and living in harmony with nature point toward a living, nature-based theology for Christians. The possibilities created by this theology are endless. The important change is to realize the need to create time in one’s day for this sacred space. Whether it is taking a look at the groceries you buy and how they might be contributing to climate change or sitting outside for more time each day.
I believe God created us to spend time in the natural world and live in harmony with it. In the Bible, Jesus and the prophets of the Old Testament are in this spiritual state. There was no question for them about the living God within nature. It is their source of retreat and guidance. May you find it as well.