How can we pray about the earth?
By Elaina Simpson, C.S.
Needless to say, people are thinking about the earth. We've heard how climatologists have said we have a limited amount of time to turn things around. Instead of feeling fearful about this, I've found it helpful to stay alert and to consider the earth from a spiritual perspective. (One of my favorite things about considering these issues spiritually, is that it removes it from the political arena. Meaning, it’s about prayer, not about human-will or something political!)
Sometimes, looking at our earth from a spiritual perspective can seem confusing at first. One might wonder how it’s even possible to reconcile matter (earth) to Spirit (that which is spiritual, of God). I have found, taking a spiritual idea and trying to fit it into matter, often leaves us feeling confused. It suggests duality-- A life of both matter and Spirit. Attempting to find spirituality in materiality, can seem obscure. But, Christian Science is about knowing that in God's eyes, all is spiritual, and starting from that spiritual point of perfection. So instead of attempting to take a spiritual idea and bring it 'down to earth', we can see the earth as a spiritual idea, from God's eyes. It also doesn't work to try to fit an idea (something that's unlimited and infinite) into a material concept. It simply, won't fit! So we can start with the earth as a spiritual idea.
Talking about our spiritual sense, Mary Baker Eddy, in her textbook on healing, explains how in prayer, we can consider things as ideas. She says, "Divine Science, rising above physical theories, excludes matter, resolves things into thoughts, and replaces the objects of material sense with spiritual ideas." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 123:12) She also writes, "Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul. These ideas are perfectly real and tangible to spiritual consciousness, and they have this advantage over the objects and thoughts of material sense, — they are good and eternal." (SH 269:14–20) It helps to consider the earth not as a material thing that needs fixing, but as an indestructible, untouched idea of God.
Considering earth as an idea rather than a thing, we find Mrs. Eddy's definition of 'Earth' found in our textbook on healing in the glossary. (At the end of Science and Health, Eddy provides a glossary for Biblical terms to help open up the scripture.) Eddy presents two different definitions under Earth; Earth as the thought or idea (spiritual sense) and earth as the 'thing' (the so-called material sense testimony).
"EARTH. A sphere; a type of eternity and immortality, which are likewise without beginning or end.
To material sense, earth is matter; to spiritual sense, it is a compound idea."
From a seeming matter perspective, we see the illusion. Things seem to be depressing, hopeless, fragile, decaying, vulnerable or limited. But when we see things as a spiritual idea, we see that an idea cannot be destructed and in this case, it is 'without beginning or end.’ Those that have studied Christian Science might be familiar with the idea that we ourselves are God’s creation, as spiritual indestructible ideas. Similarly, we can see the earth this way too. (But hold on, I’ll get to how we act on this prayer more below!)
Eddy expands on this new, spiritual view of earth. Quoting John in the Bible, she presents a thought-provoking question. "The Revelator tells us of 'a new heaven and a new earth.' Have you ever pictured this heaven and earth, inhabited by beings under the control of supreme wisdom?" (SH 91:1) Perhaps today more than ever, we can consider this spiritual, new heaven, earth. We each have the ability to see things as John did, in our oneness with God, Mind. Seeing that God is in control, supreme, governing and has wisdom, even when matter seems to suggest no solution.
So how does this new idea of earth apply to our experience? We learn in Christian Science that our experience follows thought. Our prayer and action is one. (Not 'are' one, but 'is' one.) So the way we pray about the earth is important, because our action must follow our prayer.
Regarding taking care of the earth… Genesis 1 tells us we were created by God, Love, as Love's reflection, 'image and likeness.' It therefore, is not a surprise that it is natural to be grateful for God's gifts and to therefore want to care for them. We wouldn't litter or damage that which we are grateful for, and we would act in a way that represents the highest idea, or our highest sense of what is right. It is a divine law that God’s ideas (earth and man) must work together in perfect harmony.
It’s fun to practice seeing earth in its spiritual sense. Untouched, eternal, and immortal. As we see this more and more in our daily prayer, our actions match and express love and gratitude to our spiritual earth, in both thought and action.
In our oneness with God, it’s natural to see things as spiritual ideas. Here are some useful ideas on how we see our spiritual universe:
"If God, the All-in-all, be the creator of the spiritual universe, including man, then everything entitled to a classification as truth, or Science, must be comprised in a knowledge or understanding of God, for there can be nothing beyond illimitable divinity." (SH 127:4)
"The universe of Spirit is peopled with spiritual beings, and its government is divine Science." (SH 264:32–1)
"...man and the spiritual universe coexist with God." (SH 267:11)
"Therefore the spiritual universe is good and reflects God as He is. God's thoughts are perfect and eternal, are substance and Life. Material and temporal thoughts are human, involving error, and since God, Spirit, is the only cause, they lack a divine cause. The temporal and material are not then creations of Spirit. They are but counterfeits of the spiritual and eternal." (SH 286:19–26)
Considering the earth as spiritual, not only makes one less fearful of the future or of seeming threats... But our prayer blesses the whole world and uplifts world-thought. Instead of making us naive, negligent, or ignorant, our prayer for the world makes us Love the world more. Beyond blind human optimism, we look to what God sees and care for all of God’s ideas. Our viewpoint of earth as an idea is from our oneness with God. We see that "He's got the whole world in his hands." (492:1 Christian Science Hymnal) Acting on prayer, we embrace the earth in our prayer-- In thought and deed, and this blesses. Good Evening. :)
__________ Prompted by the pandemic, I post every Monday evening at 9 PM EST. For notifications about weekly postings, you can subscribe here. If you are new to these ideas and are interested in my references above, those are found in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (Authorized Edition)