Here’s a solution for almost anything that bothers you: get out into nature. Breathe some fresh air, get away from the city or the suburbs, and see what God made.
Today, on U.N. World Environment Day 2017, I want to implore you to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to remember to protect the Earth that we all share. Today, on June 5th, our verdant world deserves our gratitude.
A few weeks ago my wife and I joined two close friends and traveled to Yosemite. If you’ve never been there, you owe it to yourself to visit. When you encounter Yosemite, you’ll see one of the great wonders of the natural world: gushing waterfalls, steep canyons, a running river and a gorgeous valley populated with majestic trees and grazing deer and a few big bears for good measure. As we stood there in that glorious valley, drinking in the awe-inspiring beauty and hearing the roaring thunder of the falls all around us, it felt like visiting the most magnificent temple ever created—the temple of the soul. So please, do yourself a major favor and go.
While you’re there, give some thought to the enormous effort it took to protect Yosemite, and all the rest of the world’s natural wonders.
If you’re there in Yosemite today—or any other beautiful place on God’s green Earth—join the rest of the world by celebrating World Environment Day as a day for everyone, everywhere. Since W.E.D. began in 1972, global citizens in every nation have organized many thousands of events, from neighborhood clean-ups, to action against wildlife crime, to replanting forests, to just taking a hike.
This year’s W.E.D. theme—“Connecting People to Nature”—invites you to think about how we humans are part of nature, and how intimately and completely we depend upon it. World Environment Day challenges us to find fun, exciting and ultimately spiritual ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship with our one Earth.
Why spiritual, you may ask? The Baha’i teachings explain:
Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise. Were anyone to affirm that it is the Will of God as manifested in the world of being, no one should question this assertion. It is endowed with a power whose reality men of learning fail to grasp. Indeed a man of insight can perceive naught therein save the effulgent splendour of Our Name, the Creator. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 141.
With those words, the Baha’i teachings reveal the essential relationship between humanity and the natural environment. Everything we experience out in nature, Baha’is believe, reflects the grandeur and magnificence of the Creator.
That’s why it’s important to get outside—you can’t have that awe-inspiring encounter with nature unless you’re standing on the soil or floating on the waters of our planet. Just think: the world’s oceans, forests and soils constantly work for humanity, acting as vast storehouses for greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. The planet’s astounding biodiversity provides for every human need. People everywhere spend every working day connected to nature, staking their lives on natural water supplies and fertile soil. The food we eat and the water we drink all come from the generous Earth.
So when you’re out there in nature, say hello to your relatives—the minerals, the plants, the animals that sustain us. After all, everyone has roots in the ground of this green Earth:
Were one to observe with an eye that discovereth the realities of all things, it would become clear that the greatest relationship that bindeth the world of being together lieth in the range of created things themselves, and that co-operation, mutual aid and reciprocity are essential characteristics in the unified body of the world of being, inasmuch as all created things are closely related together and each is influenced by the other or deriveth benefit therefrom, either directly or indirectly. – Abdu’l-Baha, from a tablet to an individual Baha’i.