Thought for the Day - Catherine Pepinster
It is 50 years since Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring warned us of the impact man was having on the planet, particularly the way we were destroying animal and plant life with chemical pesticides and pollution. Carson’s account also revealed how we had grown out of sync
with nature, trying to force it into producing bigger and bigger harvests, rather than working with the natural world. So it seems particularly tragic to read, exactly half a century on from Carson’s prophetic warnings, that we’re again damaging the planet with the use
of pesticides. This week came evidence that the worldwide decline in colonies of bees could well be caused by the use of powerful nerve agent pesticides. And given bees are vital for pollinating crops, this has consequences for our food.
Living in harmony with nature is so essential to our well-being that it is the first lesson of scripture. The account of creation in the book of Genesis tells of an idyllic garden where man lives amid beauty and new life. Rather than be contrary to scientific explanations of
the origins of the world, Genesis can be read as a parable about the need for man and woman, God and nature to live together, a communion of balance. That idyll was lost when the serpent tempted man, persuading him that he knew best. It was as if the leaves shrivelled, the birds fell silent, and the flowers drooped.
Man ended the harmonious life of the garden yet his relationship with nature continued. God orders him to work by the sweat of his brow and eat the plants of the field. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes
talks of his great works, making himself gardens and parks and planting all kinds of fruit trees. So man tries to recreate his own fruitful space yet for all the effort made, there is always a sense that in our relationship with the earth, we fail as stewards. We continually exploit nature, risking its destruction, convinced that we
know best how to rule it.
This coming week leads us to Easter, the great moment Christians mark in the history of man’s redemption, when
Christ rose from the dead. When Mary Magdalene goes to Jesus’ tomb, she ventures to a garden. There she finds the tomb empty. The gospel accounts says that first she mistakes the risen Christ for the gardener.
Christ, the new Adam, has come to set right the wrongs of the first Adam, who has ruined life in the Garden of Eden. It reminds us too that we can set right the disharmony we have sown by careful stewardship rather than by exploitation of nature’s precious gifts.