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Do we need rewilding?


Humanity and all of creation flourishes in healthy connection with God and each other.
BY MELANIE-ANNE HOLLAND*

 

I am amazed by the technology that connects us. I love that I am able to speak with my family on the phone, Facetime friends overseas and join meetings with coworkers to collaborate around the world. The platforms seem endless. Our phones contain more computing power than the desktop I used in high school. We are more connected than ever before.

 

And yet, we can feel entirely discon­nected and alone. What was intended to support humanity can become a sea of noise and demands, while never offering us the homecoming our spirits long for.

 

Connection – personal, authentic, organic – is a human need. We need connection with God and with other people, and we need connection with the environment around us.

 

As I read the Bible, I see that connec­tion is a theme woven through all the stories; that humanity and all of creation flourishes in healthy connection with God and each other. It starts with the very earliest of stories in the book of Genesis, where humanity is tasked with caring for the Garden of Eden (see Genesis chapter 2, verse 15). These early stories place us within nature, an important part of the ecological process.

 

“We need to find ways to be ‘in nature’ rather than dominating spaces with our demands.”

It is no coincidence that as our lives become more disconnected with the systems that nurture us, people become more fractured physically, emotionally and spiritually.


Science tells us what ancient wisdom has long professed; that reconnecting with nature is important to our wellbeing. Simply staring at the ocean can change our brain activity and bring us into a mild meditative state, the sea air increasing our serotonin levels and decreasing anxiety.

 

Similarly, walk­ing in green spaces (such as bushland or parks) can reduce stress and symptoms of depression, improving cardiovascular health, immune system capability, concen­tration, memory and mood. Research shows that getting your hands dirty whilst gardening is helpful, as the bacteria in the soil cause our brains to release serotonin, helping us to feel happier and boosting our immune system.

 

Perhaps we need rewilding. We need to find ways to be ‘in nature’ rather than dominating spaces with our demands. We need to find ways to be alongside our native wildlife, helping them to flourish. We need to plant trees and clean water­ways and protect beaches. And in caring for creation, we may find that we have become more connected and whole.

 

As World Wildlife Day is observed internationally tomorrow (Sunday 3 March 2024), we are each encouraged to think about what it means to connect people with the planet.


Connection – personal, authen­tic, organic – cannot be replicated by technology, but perhaps technology can support us in our quest to find greater wellbeing and support the natural envi­ronment around us.

 

*Major Melanie-Anne Holland is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in NSW. She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Hons) and degree in theology. Melanie-Anne is The Salvation Army’s representative on the Australian Churches Ecological Taskforce, as part of the National Council of Churches, Australia.

 

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