News of endangered species is heartbreaking, whether the situation seems remote (such as polar bears and penguins losing habitat), or closer to home (such as the dwindling number of honeybees, which pollinate one-third of humans' food supply). Yet an experience I had a few years ago showed me how prayer can bring healing to our hearts and to the animals.
At the time, I was editing a regional beekeepers' newsletter and felt overwhelmed by the reports of bee "colony collapse" and the impact it would have on world food production. So when I noticed near the end of the winter that one of my backyard hives had dwindled to a fist-sized, queenless population, I first thought this was just part of the hopeless global picture. How could the tiny remnant adequately warm itself, let alone egg cells do so – if any viable ones remained? On top of this, warmer weather with nectar and pollen that might enable the worker bees to "re-queen" the colony was a month off.
But then I remembered I could pray. Immediately the intuition came that the colony was an expression of God – of infinite Mind and Life – and so had the intelligence and energy to hatch a new queen and continue. This was such a clearly inspired conviction that the hopelessness and worry instantly vanished. When I again opened the hive a few weeks later, I found a laying queen and many eggs. That hive subsequently boomed into a several-story colony that I was able to divide into two.
What had happened?
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love" (p. 1). Effective prayer starts with turning to God and recognizing – understanding – Him as the infinite, eternal Spirit, which has lovingly created and sustains us all. Gaining that perspective enables us to see beyond the discordant material scene to the real, permanent, spiritual nature of all creation – animals included.
As I prayed, I glimpsed the spiritual fact that bees are not helpless or soulless material creatures lacking critical elements for their continued well-being, but are expressions of God, of divine Life. As such, they are eternally safe, secure, healthy, whole, and out of danger. They can't be separated from their infinite source, and so they cannot be deprived. The result was a corrective shift in my thought from matter to Spirit, and this brought into view more of the ever-present harmony of spiritual being. The almost extinct hive of bees revived and thrived.
We can pray in similar ways for any endangered animal, from polar bears and penguins to abused livestock and abandoned pets, seeking to understand that in Spirit their existence is safe and intact. And as we do this, we can expect to see more of that heavenly reality right here and now. As Jesus assured his followers, "with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26).