Having fashioned the seas and the land, God pronounces that the land should produce plants and trees. Life thus emerges in order and symmetry, like a flower unfolding, opening up and revealing intricacy and loveliness. These verses speak of a God who wants always to be giving in generosity and overflowing love.
To know that God sees what he has created and, in his seeing, gives value to it and pronounces it to be good, is a deep call to us, similarly, to reflect on how we view the world around us. Even in the midst of the most intensely urban setting, we need the light, water, land and seed-bearing vegetation that God has created in order to survive, and we neglect to think about those things at our peril. Beyond mere survival, there is plenty of evidence to show that having nature areas both within and around our cities brings a wealth of health and well-being benefits to us as well as, of course, aiding biodiversity and therefore other species. So whether urban or rural, we need to be looking after the land.
Trees are truly wonderful things and they give us great aesthetic pleasure through the resource of their wood, their role in protecting soil, absorbing CO2 and the way they provide habitats for a myriad of wildlife. However, deforestation continues to happen at an alarming rate, with over half of the world’s tropical forests having been destroyed since the 1960s.
Fortunately, there are schemes all around the world working to protect our vital trees. Many churches are planting trees and looking after their patch of land in ways that provide habitats for other creatures and create places of beauty for people to enjoy.
We are called to follow God in loving and cherishing this world, not only in our understanding but in our practice too. One way we can show our gratitude, reverence and appreciation is by reducing our paper usage drastically, using recycled paper and planting trees – one of the most effective and cheapest ways to tackle climate change – wherever possible.
On the Third Day, God created the dry land and the plants and trees and ‘saw that it was good’. May we also look with new appreciation at the land and trees that are around us and act in ways to love and protect them.