It had the Andromeda galaxy on the cover. I’m talking of my first astronomy book by the famous Patrick Moore.
The other childhood favourite was about the planets. From it, I learned that Earth is sandwiched between Venus and Mars.
The first has a foul atmosphere of sulphuric acid at 90 times the pressure of our own planet. Worse still its surface temperature would melt lead. All of this caused by a runaway greenhouse effect which turned a possible heaven into a veritable hell.
Mars is different entirely. Due to it not having much of a magnetic field, its atmosphere was blown away by the solar winds. As a result, its flowing rivers and lakes dried leaving an airless, barren and cold place.
When the Apollo astronauts looked back at Earth they marvelled at our blue dot in the bleakness of space. Those brave souls in the International Space Station too are fascinated by the world passing below. But they also see the blueish strip around it which is the atmosphere.
The thin ribbon of opportunity giving life in the blackness. The wafer like barrier that allowed a biblical author millennia ago to write of all human life:
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
that yield fruit in their season.
What then are the ‘fruits’ that humanity is contributing to in this season?
Well as I write, COP26 is underway in my home city. It is therefore a strange mix of the familiar and the exotic. Yet somehow, the discussions and, hopefully, agreements are nearly all about prohibitions. While planting more trees is a pleasant thought, overall, there is little joy on offer. Step up those of faith. For we as Christians in common with the other Abrahamic faiths hold the Hebrew Bible as sacred. Let us look there for not just our climatic toil but our Godly reward. Put directly, may we remember Eden.
This first summer of my retirement saw me getting down to bring a measure of control into my wilderness garden. While I am not a natural or particularly willing gardener, I did find in it satisfaction. Moreover, I came to value the other creatures who call this unkempt space home. By these simple pleasures, I learned the meaning of being a gardener of creation.
So, as we continue to dwell on the demands to reverse climate change, may we also work to bring joy to that process. May we be contented gardeners honouring the wilderness and the ordered. Let us indeed show the persisting fruits of the true harmony of God, our global Eden and humanity.