At a special showing of Chasing Coral at Mote Marine Aquarium, we chatted with a principal in the film via Skype, and afterwards with two of Mote’s researchers. I’d thought global warming was simply a normal weather cycle, like the time of the dinosaurs or the Ice Age. Time-lapse photography of coral reefs rapidly dying due to unprecedented heights in ocean temps, paralleled with the peaks on graphs of earth and ocean temps, changed all that for me.
(healthy coral reef)
If the world’s forest were dying as quickly as the corals (which provide an equally important segment of the oceanic environment) we would do everything necessary to reverse the process before it’s too late. For many corals, it already is.
Mote biologists are working to save specimens and as much genetic material as possible, in hopes of a time when the environment once again allows the corals to live. That will happen only if we change what is going into our atmosphere and dumping into the ocean. If the oceans did not absorb so much extra heat held in by greenhouse gases our atmospheric temperatures would rise to 110 degrees, right now! The ocean cannot keep absorbing more heat and pollution. Not without widespread death.
Why am I sharing this here?
First of all, I believe we are charged by our Creator with the care and nurture of our environment.
I will get flack on this from both sides, but I have to say that I don’t understand how this issue became a political divide. Why are people working to protect the unborn child, but doing nothing to provide a safe environment for those children to grow up in? And why are others working to save any living thing, as long as it isn’t human, pre-born, disabled, sick, old, or “a burden to society”?
Either we nurture, or something dies.
Outside of us, and inside of us.
Secondly, though I usually share my glimpses of peace, I don’t want to be one who says, “Peace! Peace!” where there is no peace.
If we have our needs met and can take care of those in our purview, we may be lulled into thinking all is well. But, like lifeless reefs below the ocean’s surface, silent death can be at work within us, too.
The interesting thing about the corals is that the ocean temperatures aren’t directly killing them. In a symbiotic relationship, algae live inside the coral polyps and use photosynthesis to convert sunlight into food for the corals. Even a slight increase in temperature quickly kills the algae. When these organisms cease to provide for their needs, the corals expel them, leaving themselves with no food source. Without their little buddies inside to feed them, they soon die, as well. Almost overnight, they turn completely white.
( dead reef)
Similarly, the junk of daily life can kill the life within our hearts and spirits.
Then we lose the creative spark, whatever makes us different, and was meant to make us a difference-maker.
We like to say all is well, but, in truth, all cannot be well with us if a creeping darkness is blocking the light. Without the constant work of God’s Spirit filling us with new life, our souls will follow our bodies in the daily march toward death.
The good news is, our inner world can be revived and renewed.
Just like the beauty of a healthy coral reef, we were created to show God’s glory.
To stay in health, it is vital that we connect to Life, that we receive life-giving energy. If we are filled daily, our light-bearing receptors grow stronger. When we open our hearts to his saving, cleansing work initiated through the death and resurrection of Jesus, then the destructive power of darkness within is immobilized.
We all have as much of God as we really want. It’s a choice, and one we must make daily to nourish the holy work within us.
The health of our world depends on our choices every day, which determine how much greenhouse gas we release into the air.
The health of our soul depends on our daily choices, as well. If the Light of the World does not fill and refill us, we start to lose the spark within.
If that continues, we will eventually shrivel up and go dark. We will miss the life we were created to live, and the world will suffer the loss of the gifts we were meant to share.
It may seem gloomy to talk about this during a holiday season, but it is precisely at times like this that our choices stand out. How we spend our time, money, and energy determines what fills us, and what overflows to those around us.
Let this not be said about us. “Stand in shock, heavens, at what you see! Throw up your hands in disbelief—this can’t be!” God ’s Decree. “My people have committed a compound sin: they’ve walked out on me, the fountain of fresh flowing waters, and then dug cisterns— cisterns that leak, cisterns that are no better than sieves. Jeremiah 2:12-13 MSG
For his PhD in Oceanography, my husband, Jack, studied the effects of drilling mud on coral reefs. I’ve watched his reels of little coral polyps shaking off drilling mud — until the burden was too great. The mud didn’t directly kill the coral, but when it blocked the sunlight, the algae within died. The death that he saw in his studies was minute compared to the scope of current coral bleaching (death). Like reefs around the world, the reefs he studied in the Florida Keys and the Texas Flower Gardens in the Gulf of Mexico were vibrant and thriving. Now, they are almost completely white. It is close to being too late for them.
Is that true for us, too?