January 6, 2016: LOSING NATURE

~by Virginia Rhys Anson, OFS

So sad the realization that nature is waning, that she is systematically fading, and so gradually that it doesn’t seem so. How much nature will our children see? How much will they experience—my grandchildren and great grandchildren? Will they know the scent of the pine? Or screech of the hawk? Will they enjoy the romp of the deer or the lumber of the bear in the wild–or merely in the pseudo wild of a zoo? Will their connection with nature be relegated to a park or their own back yards?

Nature, although quite strong and resilient, is at the whim of humans. Man has claimed total dominance, not divinely relegated dominion, over God’s creation. Humanity seems quite content to use her for its own selfish gain with little thought of the ramifications. Nothing good comes from this. Nothing good comes from humans determining how and where nature can exist.

Human beings and wildlife cannot survive without forests and oceans and meadows. Yet we continue to compartmentalize nature, relegating her to places that do not interfere with our lives and our plans for self-fulfillment or expansion. We are squeezing her into tighter and tighter places, forcing some of her creatures into extinction. We are losing the beauty and uniqueness of those species forever. Unconscionable.

Natural evolution ordains by divine intent that nature must decide when a species goes extinct. It is so very despicable for extinction to be human caused. God intended us to be stewards of nature, not dictators over her.

We are such a greedy species, we humans. Oftentimes we are other than humane. We take and grow to fit our needs, too frequently ignoring the needs of others and of nature.

Rarely do we see the true treasures gifted to us by God. What sight can be more awe-inspiring than the redwoods extending decades of miles toward the sky, trees that have lived for eons. What music can bring more pleasant than the meadowlarks melodic warble, or the brook’s babble? What gala is more enjoyable than the frolic of squirrel with her mate?

Lamentable is the lack of nature that youth encounters. Not only do youngsters live in confined nature—on small plots of land in the suburbs or, even more corralling, in apartments and condos with mere terraces for outdoor living—but seldom do they play in the out-of-doors. Creation, if experienced at all, is observed on television or the computer screen. The encounter, if one can call it such, is, at best, mono dimensional—sight and sound only—no scent of fishy ocean, no feel of moss-covered elms. Though documentaries can be quite enlightening, they leave a huge chunk of the commune with nature missing. Children are not smelling or touching nature. Children are not feeling the chill of a tranquil stream or the feathery coat of the wooly worm. They don’t sniff the aroma of a fall forest before leaves descend earthward or hear the gentle hum of a breeze flowing through a pine forest and feel its tingle on their cheeks. They are not enveloped in nature, wrapped in her sensual cloak.

As this generation of youth lives with a nature diminished from that of their parents’ generation, a cascading depletion is bequeathed to their children… and to their grandchildren… and great grandchildren, each generation experiencing ever vanishing interaction with creation and thus vanishing encounters with God through His handiwork. How truly, truly sad for our future selves–and for our planet.

God’s creation is of immense import to all life on planet Earth. Not only is nature imperative for our physical survival, but likewise for our psychological well-being—our psychological survival. Nature is our sister, our mother. We cannot ignore her, push her into a box that fits our greedy desires. She is a sister and a mother that we must love and treasure and sustain. Or there will come a day when she cannot sustain us. At that moment, either humanity will follow the herds that have succumbed to extinction, or humans will depend on humans to supply what Earth now freely provides—in protective, yet quite inadequate, plastic domes. How very scary. How very deplorable, especially since God has designed Earth to provide for humanity throughout the entirety of our existence.

I hope there is nature in Heaven because I will truly miss it here on Earth.


Virginia Anson grew up in the shadows of Sandia Crest in New Mexico. Family camping trips may have sparked her passion for nature. She holds an A.S. in Electronics Technology, a B.A. in Writing, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and a certificate in Wildlife/Forestry Conservation. Her book, Mother Earth’s Caretakers, targets middle school youngsters and is published as an e-book for Kindle. Virginia is a Vietnam Era veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and her volunteer endeavors see her as a lector, Eucharistic minister, and sacristan in her parish and as a habitat steward for the National Wildlife Federation. She especially cherishes her life in the Secular Franciscan Order, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.


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