For the 40th annual Earth Day, individuals and organizations around the globe are holding observances over several days, with April 25 highlighted as the “global day of celebration.”
Yet as our planet faces climate change, oceanic pollution, and other widespread environmental challenges, some may wonder if even a month of special activities can really help. I’ve wondered that, too, while volunteering for various environmental causes. Such activities often help inform and initiate sparks of interest in an issue, but to bring wider awareness and healing requires a higher sense both of action and of celebration. As Albert Einstein reportedly noted, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”
Action – bringing about change – is more efficient and effective with a wider and clearer picture of where we are and where we’re going. It’s easier to find the way through a maze after previewing a map or climbing a ladder for a better view. Similarly, our goodwilled activities to help Earth are more effective when our thinking climbs higher.
The famous photos of Earth from space helped shift thought and environmental activism from the national to the global level (and became symbols of Earth Day). But it’s possible and critical to continue higher, beyond the material to the spiritual, and that’s where celebration comes in.
Celebrating doesn’t mean just having a party or other festivities. It also means to honor or extol, to raise “to heavenly glory.” So, to truly celebrate Earth involves lifting our concept of it from that of an endangered physical planet in a material universe to being a spiritual idea in the universe of Spirit’s (God’s) creation.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, pointed to this higher sense of Earth when she described it as “a type of eternity and immortality, which are likewise without beginning or end. To material sense, earth is matter; to spiritual sense, it is a compound idea” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 585).
Celebrating Earth by spiritualizing our thought of it before acting is like looking at a map before entering the maze. It corrects our perspective and facilitates problem solving, surer steps, and swifter passage.
An experience I had while working in an environmental nonprofit gave a small example of how such a celebratory lift in thought leads to more efficient and effective activity. I arrived at the office late one afternoon quite fatigued, expecting to need only to select slides for an educational program and participate in a brief project meeting before the evening board meeting.
Unfortunately, I found that the person who’d volunteered to draft the 20-minute slide program script hadn’t done so, and the completed program had to be presented at that evening’s meeting. I usually wrote first drafts by hand and then edited and reedited them, but there was no time for that.
So I sat down at the computer with a brief thought of gratitude for the organization’s work and the rough outline at hand. To my surprise (and despite the fatigue), I found the words flowing freely. I was not thinking the words as I typed them but was simply watching them appear on the screen.
Shortly, I had finished a draft, made minor edits, and printed out the script. Another participant in the subsequent project meeting graciously helped me select slides while we talked, and I was able to present the completed program at the board meeting. It was approved with virtually no changes and used for several years as an educational tool.
What I glimpsed was that even the briefest of true “celebrations” lifts the object (program, project, or person) “to heavenly glory” and enables a higher level of thinking and more effective action. So as we head out to plant trees, clean up litter, or otherwise join in Earth Day activities, let’s pause to celebrate first. Celebration isn’t frivolous; it’s required.