Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ever since his election, Pope Francis has been my favorite Pope. I’m not Catholic, but I admire the fact that he’s not afraid to regularly speak out against corruption, specifically the neglect and exploitation of our natural environment for profit, as is common on a grand scale in this market economy. He is a world leader in the truest sense, wouldn’t you agree?
Recently, the Pope expressed his belief that the coronavirus could be Nature’s response to climate change. He was quoted in a UK periodical saying, “There is an expression in Spanish: God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the last part of that statement.
In honor of Earth Day, I present my defense of Nature, and therefore, my disagreement with the Pope.
I concur with the idea that the virus devastation could be Nature’s response to prolonged abuse and neglect. It’s unfathomable to me just how poorly the Earth has been treated throughout history, especially the last few decades. But I don’t agree with the words Nature never forgives.
In my opinion, our external natural environment must attempt an ongoing balance of sorts, similar to our internal nature’s constant drive for homeostasis. For example, when we get too cold or too hot, we may shiver or sweat, which reestablishes our normal body temperature set point. Or, when our intracellular fluid becomes too acidic, minerals can be leached from our bones to buffer the acidity and reestablish pH balance. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566456/#!po=1.21951). So, although the natural world presents us with occasional events that result in death and destruction, I believe those events are more related to rebalancing on some level than Nature’s unwillingness to forgive. What do you think?
In the podcast Food Independence and Planetary Evolution, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3aOQ0N74PI) Rich Roll, author of Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, talks with triple board certified Zach Bush, MD, about the wretched state of our food supply. In large part, the conversation centers around the soil-decimating and gut-destroying glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer which is used extensively in non-organic commercial farming.) Dr. Bush, after speaking more than an hour on the sad and unjust consequences of current practices, shared the concept of biological grace, which he defines as the ability (of an entity) to heal faster than (it is) injured.
His first example of this idea is related to human experience. He talks about some of his clinic’s patients who, after a lifetime of damaging disregard for their health, can make a few simple changes and see health problems reverse in a matter of weeks or months. These changes, such as short-term fasting and (largely) ridding their lives of chemicals, give a much-needed break to their biological systems, allowing the healing response to begin.
Dr. Bush goes on to address soil health within the same paradigm. Decades of using genetically modified seeds, applying glyphosate, mono-cropping, and tilling are killing the life in our soils, resulting in, among other disasters, smaller yields of crops with greatly reduced nutrient content. His estimates show that about 98% of the earth’s soils are now depleted in a similar manner. According to Dr. Bush, if the harmful measures are halted, biodiversity can return to the soil within a single growing season. His team has partnered with the Soil Health Academy, (https://soilhealthacademy.org) and together, they have witnessed this renewal in over a million acres. In my mind, this epitomizes Nature’s forgiveness.
I want to thank you, Pope Francis, for calling the world’s attention to our ailing planet during this unprecedented time of darkness. But science backed by experience disproves your statement Nature never forgives. And although the pandemic continues to rage, regardless of its root cause, I choose to trust in the goodness of biological grace.
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. – Anne Lamott
Blessings for Grace,