Feb 9 2018

Wonder and Humility

f_DSC9563I came across a passage from Rachel Carson a few days ago I do not recall reading before. With her usual insight she said “It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”  Although written several years ago, these words seem especially poignant today.  Unfortunately, in many ways what lots of people are contemplating in nature is not its beauties but what financial profit can be made from it.  For our government this appears to be its overriding concern at the present moment.  How sad!

_CES0652I have no doubt that God created the world in such a way that we could benefit from its resources, but I sincerely doubt this was all God had in mind. Carson points to nature’s other benefits when she writes “Those who dwell…among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living.  Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life exists.  There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for spring.  There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”

_CES0203Just as there are financial rewards to be found in nature, there are spiritual, mental and physical rewards to be found as well. We desperately need to be good stewards of God’s Creation so that we do not lose these other benefits.  In the long run, they are more important than the short-term financial profits.  I would also concur with Carson that it is through contemplation of God’s Creation that we “know the sense of wonder and humility.” How do you put a price tag on things like this?  If humans lose their sense of wonder they lose an invaluable asset.  If we lose our humility, we are doomed.


May 29 2017

Planet Earth II

_CES5265Recently I purchased the BBC series Planet Earth II narrated by David Attenborough.  I’ve spent the last few days watching the DVDs.  As one reviewer of the series stated, “’Five stars’ isn’t really enough for this program.”  I highly recommend the series to anyone who is interested in nature.  The videography is absolutely amazing and the narration riveting.  You will no doubt learn much as you watch the segments dedicated to Islands, Mountains, Jungles, Deserts, Grasslands, and Cities.  You will also likely find yourself longing to know more.

I am thankful for nature series like Planet Earth. They enable a person to experience vicariously the wonders of God’s Creation.  Watching Planet Earth II I saw creatures and landscapes I will never be able to see firsthand.  I also learned much about this planet that I did not know.  I found myself marveling over how various animal species have been able to adapt to their environments and how everything in nature in interconnected.

_CES5221Watching Planet Earth II proved to be something of a religious experience for me.  Over and over I found myself echoing the words of the Psalmist, “How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (104:24)  Time and again I found myself offering thanks and praise to God for being the Creator of such a marvelous planet.

_DSC8099There were portions of the series, however, that were sobering. The producers did not hide the fact that many of the earth’s species and landscapes are now threatened by climate change, various forms of pollution and loss of habitat.  The very earth which supports human life is being devastated by those same humans.  I’m glad this tragic element was included in the series because we need to be informed.  Rachel Carson once said, “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” I can’t imagine a person watching the Planet Earth series and not wanting to do more to save our threatened world.  If for no other reason than this I would recommend this program to you.

Needless to say, there are lots of other great nature programs to be seen on television. I encourage you to watch them from time to time so that you, too, may marvel at the wonders of God’s Creation and be inspired to do something to preserve and protect that Creation.


Mar 27 2011

Not a Silent Spring

During a number of periods of quiet this past week I became keenly aware of the songs of birds being sung outside my home.  I have enjoyed the tunes provided by mockingbirds, cardinals and chickadees.  More than once the bird’s songs have made me think of Rachel Carson.

I have always enjoyed the outdoors.  A lot of my childhood years were spent playing in the woods.  It was not, however, until about twenty years ago that I  became interested in environmental issues.  When I did become interested one of the first books I read was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.  As many of you know, this classic work revealed the detrimental effects of certain pesticides on birds and other wildlife species.  Carson feared we would be facing “silent springs” if the use of these pesticides were not banned.  Thankfully, Silent Spring led to many important changes and caused our country to become more sensitive to environmental issues.

Rachel Carson was keenly aware of our need to practice good stewardship when it comes to the earth.  She once wrote, “The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery—not over nature but of ourselves.”  Her words are perhaps more true today than ever before.  In many different venues humans and the environment continue to be threatened by harmful chemicals and pollution.  We still need voices like Rachel Carson’s to rise up and take a stand against these dangers.  Christians should join in the chorus and remember our divine calling to care for the earth.  We cannot afford to forget that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

Because of the courage and passion of one like Rachel Carson I have yet to experience a silent spring.  Will the generations that follow us be able to say the same thing?  Perhaps, but they will not if we do not do our part now and make every effort possible to keep harmful substances out of our air and waters.  We will have to be wiser than those who have gone before us.  I hope and pray that we will.  I just cannot imagine a spring without the songs of birds.  Can you?


(I took these bird images at my home this past week.)