THE MORE I READ and hear about the perceived dangers from global warming to our earth and its living creatures, the more I'm reminded of the story of Noah and the Ark (see Gen., chaps. 6—9). Recently, I took the time to reread this story and ponder what it has to offer us today in a global context.

First off, this story tells me that just as Noah took God's creation into a physical ark, I, too, can take every aspect of creation into my own mental ark—that is, into an expanding spiritual understanding of creation. And if Noah had a big job building a boat, well, this is an equally big mental undertaking. I've found it's a continuing demand to see God's spiritual creation right where matter, and especially disorganized or destructive material situations, appear to be. Yet to do this seems just as imperative as the divine command that came to Noah to build an ark and do his part in preserving God's creation.

In fact, I view today's widely reported symptoms and projections of global destruction as directly related to other kinds of dire predictions that would deny one's God-given mental and physical perfection—such as medical diagnoses, and other bodily disturbances. The only difference is that global prognoses are magnified on a far larger scale.

Because of my background as a Christian Scientist and my lifelong practice of prayer-based healing for myself and others, I refuse to be impressed by reports of the supposed reality and danger of disease. I also take care not to get caught up in thinking I am susceptible to these fears. But I do recognize where they come from—from a widespread and commonly accepted viewpoint of man creation as wholly material. And this viewpoint also suggests that God—if He exists at all—is uninterested or irrelevant. And I know that such reports can cause widespread and often undue fear. My own point of departure is taken from the very first chapter of Genesis, where God, through light, reveals an unfolding creation, sees everything that He has made, and declares it "very good" (Gen. 1:31).

Now, it's a long jump from this view to a world so wicked that God decides to send a flood to eradicate everyone except Noah. There are, however, other accounts that indicate a major flood in human history, such as the Babylonian heroic poem of Gilgamesh. But what has impressed me about the Noah story is what God required of just one person. Noah isn't instructed to save any more than what he can. He isn't asked to organize and save his village, nor does anyone else except his immediate family enter into the narration. And surprisingly, Noah doesn't pray to God to stop the flood!

Couldn't this all seem rather selfish? I'm not convinced that there would only be one man of God's creating worthy of salvation. And it's hardly possible that no one else would have tried to save themselves.

This is where it is so helpful to return to creation as set down in the first chapter of Genesis, that includes all and was declared "very good." This premise of God's infinite goodness is the mental standpoint from which prayer-based treatment in Christian Science is practiced. I'm convinced that, having proved the value of this type of treatment, I don't have to be "flooded out" by reports of environmental damage connected with global warming. That doesn't mean ignoring a growing public apprehension but rather seeing the great benefit of taking the world into my mental ark—my thoughts—and then taking human action when appropriate.

More than thirty years ago, when I was living in California, that state was already taking cutting-edge steps to mitigate environmental problems. People were recycling, growing and eating organic products, and building houses with recirculating water systems and solar panels that contributed to the electric grid. Back then, California also had a cabinet-level department of appropriate technology that coordinated and even funded such environmentally friendly programs.

My husband and I were renting a home at that time, but we decided to do what we could to contribute to the environment. We rigged up a "gray water" system that led water through a series of PVC pipes from our washing machine in the garage out into our garden. Not only did this save us money on water, but the laundry liquid I used was biodegradable and good for the plants. A drawback was that the system had to be dismantled each time we wanted to shut the garage door and reinstalled each time I did a load of laundry! But the persistence this required was well worth the outcome.

Noah persisted, too. He kept working, not always knowing how beneficial his efforts would be. It makes me realize how many more endeavors—even the small-scale ones like my laundry system—are capable of changing the world as we see it.

In the instructions Noah received from God, he was told to "pitch [the ark] within and without." Noah's ark had to be watertight. And that is just as true of our own mental stand against the threats of global warming. If we simply join with everyone who is fearful and only do our best to mitigate the dangers through physical effort, we haven't really begun to build a mental space that is impervious to the world's threats and fears. But by resorting through prayer to adopting God's view of creation, every threatening report we encounter can be an opportunity to encompass humankind in our mental ark of safety. And each time we conscientiously do that, we're applying pitch "within and without."

This kind of mental ark building may take work, especially as the outward conditions seem to worsen. But our individual and collective arkbuilding can—must—lift us above false and limiting perceptions of a threatened earth and its environs. The perspective of prayer puts our stewardship of the earth on a spiritual basis that expands thought and leads to practical solutions. This is a sure refuge. |css

July 23, 2007

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