Taylor: Back-Porch Reflections on Nature amidst COVID-19

3 minute read

By: Taylor Bell

Genesis 1:31: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and and there was morning, the sixth day.” (NRSV)

As I sit on my back porch, retreating in nature from the ever encroaching walls of my house I am struck by a stark truth. We’ve inherited a troubling ecological philosophy wherein we humans conceive of ourselves as distinct and separate from nature. While this philosophy’s historical roots go back millennia, it’s consequences are evidenced in the ways we humans relate to nature: as something to be mastered, used, and/or exploited. Yet, this philosophy also inflicts injury on the human soul, an injury that has become personally evident during this pandemic. It is our alienation from nature, which means alienation from God’s creation, which in turns means alienation from an essential aspect of God’s love. It is not surprising to me that amidst this pandemic, myself and so many others have retreated from our homes to green spaces, hiking trails, and backyard gardens to find solace, restoration, and hope. Because God did not create our homes, but God did create the rose that blooms and the trees that tower, regardless of the world’s despair.

We know from Genesis that when God created the world, God pronounced it as “very good.” From God’s love, God’s creatively formed the world, and everything in it – including us humans. And from God’s creativity a divine ecology was birthed, and it was deemed as “very good.” From the very beginning, we humans have been an essential part of God’s creation; an integral part of nature. Never have we been distinct from nature. And thus, never have we been separated from God’s love. It’s why we find solace, restoration, and hope underneath the shade of an oak tree, in the splendor of a blooming rose bush, or in the audience of a birdsong quartet. For in these moments, we find ourselves amidst God’s creation, and thus lose ourselves amidst God’s love.

This Earth Day, as I contemplate the stark realities of both the coronavirus pandemic and the ecological catastrophe of climate change, it is this divine revelation that instills in me hope. It reminds me that healing and restoration of the human being and the earth is found within God’s hands. Hands which hold the whole earth, and everything in it. Hands which created the world in an ecological harmony that was divinely deemed as very good for all. Perhaps then, some of the essential steps for both our own and the world’s healing means returning to this divine ecological harmony. Returning to the truth that we are part of nature. This is what we do each time we seek solace in nature. And so I wonder, what would happen to ourselves and the world if we were to continue carrying this truth with us long after the pandemic is over? And yet, I am not sure we can afford to forget it again.

One thought on “Taylor: Back-Porch Reflections on Nature amidst COVID-19

  1. Yes, one of my favorite places is on our back deck surrounded by trees, bushes, flowers, birds, and with the Cahaba River flowing below. I have written a lot of haiku on that deck! (This is LaMon, by the way. Just realized you might not know who “spirituality159” is–especially without a photo!)

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