I read Losing Eden by Lucy Jones who describes in beautiful language the many benefits – including biological, psychological and spiritual – of close contact with the natural environment, writes John Dempster.
Openness to nature was one of the things that helped the author recover from a mental health issue: “The world shone and it chilled my mind.
It’s ironic that we find this out at a time when humanity has ravaged the planet so much that its future is uncertain.
In a blog post, Lucy Jones describes traveling to a wooded area of the Christian campsite that she frequented as a teenager. While praying under a tree, she had an “ecstatic and electrifying” experience, which she took to be of the Holy Ghost.
Later, having turned away from the Christian faith, she explained it in purely psychological terms. Now she wonders if it was related to her proximity to the trees. She has had many deep experiences of feeling part of the web of nature as an expression of a universal life force, and she is drawn to Druidism.
I wonder what is the connection between the vital force of which the author speaks and the God of love? All I know is that creation is a living, vibrant expression of God who is present in every molecule, active in every subatomic particle.
Lucy Jones accuses Christianity of giving the theological permission for the world to be plundered, since humanity, wearing “the image of God” is considered to be distinguished from the rest of creation. Yes, Christians see humans as special, reflecting God in a way that other creatures do not. But we see humanity very much as part of the web of creation, responsible (and how much we have failed!) For its care.
Christians often focus only on individual salvation (as seems to have happened in the camps in which Lucy Jones attended). But the big picture is that of God ultimately bringing wholeness and healing to all of creation. We are talking about a universal Jesus, life force, source of all truth, goodness and beauty who invites each of us to enter into the dance of creation.
Our spiritual experiences are unique and different. What if I am someone whose experiences do not easily match what the church considers “normal?” Do I compartmentalize my life, or do I recognize that all positive and lasting enriching experiences are gifts from God?
According to Lucy Jones, followers of Druidism recognize in themselves a “grove” where they feel a sense of connection. In my better days, I find an Eden within, and the God who is waiting there to meet me has a human face, the face of Jesus.
So maybe Lucy’s teenage experience involved all three – psychology, the presence of trees, and most importantly the God of Creation.
READ: More from a Christian point of view