Theodore Roosevelt had never been to the Grand Canyon before this day, when he made a speech advocating for its protection. Some researchers claim he revised his speech after viewing the canyon and being inspired by his experience there. The place spoke to him, moved him, caused him to speak to others on its behalf. Grand Canyon National Park and several other national parks owe their existence to Roosevelt’s vision. He was changed because of his experience in the parks.
The experience of wild places and special places in nature can be a spiritual experience, an awakening or reawakening of the Creator who breathed us into being. Roosevelt gave a speech to describe what he wanted to happen to the Grand Canyon. Often when we are in wild places we can become speechless.
We stand in awe and wonder in God’s creation, and often view in silence the scenery before us. I can remember my awe when I first saw the ocean as a teenager. I grew up in the Midwest but moved to the East when I was fifteen. I grew to love the ocean and even studied marine mammals for a time when I worked at an aquarium.
We tend to think in the short term but leave it as it is in a long-term statement. If we think of the generations to come, we may be moved to protect a special place. Earth Day and many other environmental movements owe their existence to long term thinkers. We think beyond today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. What will the special place look like many generations from now? Will this park or scenic view be the same for my grandchildren and my grandchildren’s children? Long term promises connect us to a future we may not see. It is an act of faith to think that far ahead and an act of hope to go beyond the needs of now.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said Peace be with you. After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20: 19-21)
Lord, your breath connects us to God’s breath that brought creation to life. May this Earth Day remind us of all the beauty in your creation, and the renewing that can happen when we connect to the earth.
May we be led to scenic and wild places to breathe in your Spirit and renew ourselves for our work as your disciples. Help us celebrate the signs of new life all around us. Amen.