I read an article in The Oregonian this past week entitled, “Nature in Our Nature.” (The Oregonian, 5/27/09, pg. B1) Researchers have discovered that we humans have a connection to nature that is vital to our existence. Evidently, people heal faster from surgery when exposed to the natural world than if not. Also, heart rate, mental well being, and anxiety all are affected by our exposure to nature. And, it’s not just the visual that is important, it is the experience of nature that makes all the difference. When patients were put in a room with a video presentation of a wilderness scence they did not respond as well as when they opened a window where they could see, hear and smell the outdoor environment.
What does this mean? We are interconnected with the natural world. Many tribal and indigenous cultures live very close to nature. They take names for themselves from the geography and animal world around them. Their religion celebrates and includes the natural world. They wear ceremonial dress that mimics the animals of the wilderness. In short, they see themselves as “part” of nature, not distinct from it. Genesis 1:28 tells us, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’...” People have often misused this mandate from God to abusively “lord over” creation. This passage does teach us that we are supreme in creation. We are the capstone of creation, but we are still part of it. We are told that God created us from the “ground” (Gen. 2:7), which is a fact in and of itself declaring our interconnection to nature. God put Adam and Eve in to the world to “tend” the garden, not rape it (Gensis 2:15). I applaud those who have sought to protect and preserve the garden from exploitation. Men like John Muir, David Brower, Edward Abbey and David Suzuki. These are the people that have understood the need for blank spots on the map and that, even if no man goes there, we need undeveloped wilderness. Why? God made us interconnected with the natural world. We are part of the ecosystem. It is not optional, but essential for us to experience wilderness and live as part of it. This is not my idea. I am not making it up because it sounds cool, or it’s politically correct, or it fits in to my personal desires. I am just a messenger reporting on what God has already said and what my fellow humans have found to be essential for healthy and wholesome living.