Saturday, November 21, 2009

Feed Nature

As far back as I can remember nature has always fascinated me. I've watched it wander through its seasons with wonder and amazement, sometimes frightened by its roar or humbled by its gentleness. But always I've been its student, enrolled in life and captivated by the tales it tells. Though I've not always been a careful student, it has always been a patient and forgiving teacher.

I was never worried that winter would consume the hope of spring or that summer would burn away the hope of snow. Watching nighttime snowflakes dance to the ground as they swirled past the outdoor light, I understood that this white death was no death at all but nature's plan for renewal. The snow would feed the spring and help to mix the nutrients trapped in the fallen leaves of autumn into the soil that lay below.

The storms that threw down lightning on the edge of spring were not angry. They were inspired. The lightning split the clouds, commanding them with a thunderous roar to loose their moisture upon the earth. Torrents rushed into watersheds that nature had prepared to absorb them. Streams swelled with spring's joyful surplus, carrying their treasures to the bottomlands where they would enrich the valleys, lakes, and rivers that were home to the abundant fish and wildlife so dependent upon them.

When the summer sun baked the soil, one could almost hear the July corn growing in the fields. It's stalks cracked in happy stretches that gave honor to the warmth of the sun for which they were so anxious. And when it began to paint the edges of summer's growth with golden brown, one knew the sun was preparing summer's proud effort for an autumn harvest so that there would be seed and fruit again in spring.

Once again the world would need to bare itself to winter's blanket so that it could sleep a refreshing sleep till spring. Trees would flame with color, waiting for a cold and blustery wind to cast their autumn cloaks upon the ground, leaving them naked against a graying sky. Frost would dance on windowpanes and cast its spectra on fields like diamonds that danced in gentle breezes before the morning sun. Overhead, the geese would sing their plaintive song, urging their neighbors ever southward.

The first snow would fall from a November sky where every living breath hung in sacred stillness. Masterpiece upon masterpiece, the flakes would fall until their individual beauty was lost in the overwhelming brilliance of the all. Trees and grasses would bow in humble reverence to the weight of such accumulated beauty. The snow would squeak its protest against being so unjustly impacted on roads and lanes of winter life. Nature stilled her voice to listen to the cold winter lullabies carried by the wind.

Then the sun would shine again, the crocus would burst through the snow, and simple grass would ignite the song of spring in every heart that stopped to gaze upon it or stooped to welcome it from it's winter sleep. Icicles would form on eaves in crystal celebration of the sun and streams would trickle beneath the snow, popping out here and there to display their urgent rush for spring.

These are memories. But they are filled with life and knowledge because they are filled with nature. From them I have learned life's most painful lessons, 1) if you leave it alone, it will usually survive, 2) if you cultivate it, it will thrive, and 3) if you abuse it, it will usually die.

Nature is an organic collective and like all things organic, it needs food, water, and good neighbors to survive. If you feed it, it'll feed you and whatever you feed it, you will end up eating. These are wise admonitions for our treatment of the nature upon which we so desperately depend for life. The violation of nature is ultimately a violation of our selves and of all that we were meant to be. We cannot neglect it without becoming victims of our own neglect.

If we feed it poison, those poisons will poison us. If we deprive nature, we will suffer nature's deprivation. If we exploit it, sucking the life out of it for profit, it will suck the life out of us. That is nature's way of balancing our neglect. We cannot presume to reap what we have not sown. Neither can we presume to sow harm and not reap its harvest.

Nature is not a tool we exploit for profit. It's a friend. When you visit your friends, what do you do? You eat! Friends do not hesitate to offer you their best. But if you are their true friend you will not exploit their kindness. You will not eat everything they have in the cupboard or return day after day until you've impoverished their household. If you do, they will weary of your friendship. Real friends are meeker than that. If you're a true friend, you'll feed those that feed you. You'll give them the rest and encouragement and sustenance they need. You, too, will feed their friendship.

The earth is crying out for such a friend. Its convulsions are signs of its discomfort. It is not asking for much, only that we would cease to poison its friendship with our human ambition. It has meekly yielded to our every importunity. But its cupboards are growing bare. We may continue to exploit its kindness for a while longer, but in so doing we may also render it incapable of feeding those that are supposed to be its friends. If we want nature to continue feeding us, we must learn how to feed nature.

Returning to life's most painful lessons, some things are best left wild, some things need to be cultivated, and any seed of abuse or neglect will produce a harvest after its own kind. Nature needs mankind to stand up to its friendship responsibility. Nature needs man to recognize what must be left alone, what needs to be cultivated, and what abuse must end. Nature needs mankind to replenish, not exploit the soil, to purify, not pollute the waters, and to act more like its neighbor than its master. The earth is a meek friend and only the meek shall inherit the earth. All others will destroy it.

"For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found. But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalm 37:9-10, AMP)

Michael Hennen

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Natural Blessing

Nature is inherently fruitful. Barrenness is unnatural. Sterility and barrenness are perversions of nature. That is not to say that all barrenness is the result of perversion. Rather, perversions of nature are inherently sterile. Wherever barrenness and sterility prevail, a violation of nature has probably taken place. One organism can impose that violation of nature upon another, or the violation of nature can be a mutual choice. But wherever this trespass has occurred, nature wars against its perpetuation.

There are distinctions of kind in nature that prevent unwholesome and unhealthy imbalances. These distinctions prevent one kind of animal from regenerating offspring with another. They also prevent animals of the same gender from regenerating. Thus, mules cannot reproduce with one another any more than females can reproduce without males or males without females. Such relationships represent a perversion of nature.

Nature tends toward harmony and balance. Anything that threatens to compromise this harmony and balance is unnatural. Whatever is unnatural depends on what is natural to sate its appetite. But, though the unnatural can sustain itself with the nature that surrounds it, it does not and cannot contribute to the collective resource value of nature through regeneration. Rather, it siphons off nature's resources to satisfy its own short-lived narcissistic imbalance. The unnatural can destroy the local balance of nature, but it cannot regenerate that ability in others. Praise God! At some point, when it has consumed all available resources, without the ability to reproduce, the unnatural will invariably perish.

But, lest you think that such unnatural perversions and the resulting sterility are limited to the animal kingdom, consider the genetic barriers that prevent plants of one kind from crossbreeding with another kind. Apples and oranges, except when engineered by the most rigorous imposition of perverse and unnatural processes, cannot regenerate 'appanges' or 'orpples'. And when such perversions of nature are forced upon it, we often find that fauna dependent on flora for its daily sustenance, when given the choice, will prefer the unadulterated varieties to these engineering marvels. Thus, beef cattle prefer natural corn to genetically engineered varieties.

Wherever the preference for unnatural food does prevail, it is usually because flavor enhancers have been engineered into the product, not because the engineered variety is necessarily better for us. We can fool our preferences into consuming poison but not without devastating effects. Eventually, because nature strives toward balance and harmony, the detrimental effects of the perversion of nature will manifest in barrenness and death.

By contrast, nature is inherently reproductive. It regenerates itself by the most efficient means possible. It seeks out the environment that provides it with the best venue for regenerating resourcefulness. Thus, certain seeds prefer and flourish in certain climates and soils and certain animals prefer and flourish in certain climates at certain seasons. By the same virtue, certain animals gather in herds, others in prides, packs, swarms, schools, or flocks, and humans gather in families and neighborhoods.

It is only natural that organisms of one kind should gather to perpetuate their natural preference. It is also only natural that barrenness and death should limit unhealthy, unnatural preferences. When the viability of an organism is threatened, nature intervenes to nullify that threat. That such conflicts occur within nature should not surprise us. Far more remarkable is the genius that gave nature that ability.

There is a natural blessing cast upon all of creation. It is a blessing from God that perpetuates the balance and harmony of His design. Wherever the violation of that balance and harmony is threatened, barrenness and death inevitably seek to sterilize such unnatural preferences. All of nature conspires to oppose what is unnatural.

Thus, seed that is unsuitable to a certain soil or environment will either cross with more suitable seed of its kind or eventually deplete what it needs to regenerate and survive. Where, certain animals have become overpopulated, the nutritive resources that sustain them dwindle to regulate their population. Where human preference wars against healthy families, the families that sustain a neighborhood, community or nation are decimated through barrenness, poverty, disease and war.

God's blessing is upon whatever He considers natural and His curse is upon our destructive, unnatural processes and preferences. He has designed nature to be a blessing. Whatever resists or opposes the perpetuation of that natural blessing is eventually consumed or destroyed by it. War will never generate peace, sterility will never produce fertility, greed will never reproduce generosity, selfishness will never reproduce love, and exploitation will never reproduce conservation.

Nature is both meek and tenacious. When threatened, it takes the meekest possible road. When left alone its tenacity erodes even the most durable of human monuments. Though it is so delicate in the hands of men, yet, nature will prevail long after time has erased the last footprint of mankind from the earth. Ultimately, nature is inescapable.

To enjoy natural, regenerative blessings here on earth, mankind must cooperate with nature and yield to nature's God. No amount of defiance or human engineering will ever erase God's natural blessing. Nature is a reflection of the meek and the indomitable character of the Creator. Nature is bigger than man's pride and presumption. The sooner we come to this realization, the sooner we'll be able to return to living in harmony and balance with God's nature.

Michael Hennen