And God saw that it was good.
And it WAS good. Air that was pure; rivers and seas that nourished the creatures that lived therein; pastures, desert, forests – each in their place, each with its purpose, each working for the good of Mother Earth.
It is so easy to recognise what God saw when you live in rural Scotland.
Walking in our forests and woodlands is a joy, whatever the weather. Tracks through farmland to reach those woods is a reminder that God caused the earth to bring forth ‘plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with seed in it’.
And when I go a little further and walk along the towpath of the Crinan Canal, look down from the forest to the winding estuary of the River Add, where heron and geese, ducks and seabirds of every kind raise their voices in a joyful cacophony, or meander along the shores of Loch Sween, how can I not see what God saw – that it was good?
I often think of those Irish saints who sailed into Scottish waters when the waters swarmed with creatures of every kind. And it is perhaps then that my mind turns to the sadness we face today, when those waters are neither so pure nor so plentiful as when God saw it was good; as when St Brendan, St Kieran and St Columba tumbled across a sparkling Irish sea in boats you wouldn’t trust on a play park pond and agreed that God had done so very well.
Because we have made those waters less than pure. Humankind has emptied them of the swarms of living creatures. We have filled them instead with our waste – waste that hurts both sea creatures and our beautiful seabirds.
Crustaceans become entangled in trash. Dolphins – those playful and curious creatures that thrill us with their antics – are dying from their encounters with our careless debris. Our seabirds catch their wings, their beaks, their feet in bottle tops and twine, denying them the chance God offered to be fruitful, to multiply.
I am lucky to take photographs of amazing wild flowers and their pollinators. But each year there are fewer; the pollinators are seen later. We anxiously question each other on social media pages about what we have seen and where, unduly overjoyed when there are sightings of Common Blues or Orange Tip butterflies.
God made them, He saw that they were good – but our chemicals and fertilisers and farming methods are threatening their very existence.
And of course, our behaviour in the Global North has disproportionately affected our brothers and sisters in the Global South, where catastrophic droughts, floods, or fires have destroyed livelihoods and taken lives; where once-in-a-generation cyclones, tsunamis and hurricanes now wreak vengeance year upon year.
God saw that everything he had made was good, and indeed, it was very good. But what have we done? There’s time to fix it, but only if we act very fast. Peace and climate justice are so closely interlinked. May the Holy Spirit guide us back to the world God gave us.
Chair of Pax Christi Scotland