By Delia Chatoor
‘For the beauty of the earth’ is a 19th century hymn, with text by Folliott S Pierpoint, who was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the English countryside that he decided to commit his feelings in verse.
The first verses reflect the thought that praise is due to God for all of His creation: “the beauty of the earth”, day and night, trees, flowers, the organs of the body and family members which reveal God’s creative power.
Such could be seen from the photograph in which a morning glory bloom grew up from a crack. No-one planted a seed yet through other elements of nature—birds, wind—one small seed caught root from which a viable plant emerged. The mystery of life, therefore, continues to baffle us as we seek to understand God’s power in creation.
In his encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, Pope Francis reminds that “the world was created by the three Persons [of the Trinity] acting as a single divine principle…”
St Paul in his Letter to the Romans confirmed the centrality of God in creation “…ever since the creation of the world, the invisible existence of God and his everlasting power have been clearly seen by the mind’s understanding of created things” (Rom 1:20).
The publication on August 9, 2021, of the Report by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is, therefore, timely as there is detailed confirmation that “the human influence on the climate system is undisputed”.
Two important United Nations (UN) summits are to be held later this year with the expectation that critical and far-reaching decisions will be adopted to address the expert findings and the crisis affecting species.
The first conference will be the UN Biodiversity Summit from October 11, 2021, in China and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) from October 31–November 12, 2021, Scotland.
Civil society has been putting on the pressure so that there would be extensive and acceptable plans to preserve and save nature. The commitments being sought would, it is hoped, reverse the trends to save Mother Earth for future generations.
In her small but influential book written in 1892 titled Steps to Christ, American author Ellen G White, opined that, “Nature and revelation alike testify to God’s love”. Father God to her is “the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy.”
These virtues could, therefore, be experienced through every facet of nature so that in nature, God reveals Himself.
The urgent call then is not for us to use the environment and all of creation as replaceable and our playthings. The world is a gift for which we must care. St Francis of Assisi, who is seen as the patron saint of the environment, considered every living thing holy and his brother, his sister.
The UN system, inter-governmental bodies and civil society have been working assiduously on policies which should guide us in the preservation and repair of the environment.
We can begin by showing appreciation for all of God’s creation. Throughout His Ministry, Jesus made use of plant and animal life familiar to the Jews in His teachings. He went so far as to demonstrate His command over life and the seas (Matt 14:22–33).
In our own way, we are, therefore, called to preserve and respect “the beauty of the earth”. It is also necessary for us to thank God for what He provides and pray with the psalmist in Psalm 144: “All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord”.
Delia Chatoor is a retired foreign service officer and a Lay Minister of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando Parish.