We are pleased to share this guest post by LDSES member, Blake Thomas:
I was raised in the suburbs of northern Virginia. Frankly, there was nothing that was strikingly unique about my environment or myself. My neighborhood was overrun with identical tract housing and the heat radiating from asphalt scorched my imagination. My weekends were spent searching for new clothes or electronics at congested shopping malls. The ‘outdoors’ was not a part of my vocabulary.
In 2004, circumstances forced my mother and me to suddenly move to rural, central Virginia. It was there that I began to fall in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains, to pick wild berries, catch fish, and swim in the James River. My weekends were now spent sitting on a screened porch with my mother, listening to the sound of rain and thunder as it passed over the mountains. The earth smelled like dark soil and green leaves, and it was now an intrinsic part of my ‘self’.
My move to rural Virginia awakened my love for the earth. My time spent hiking on vast and humbling mountain trails made me think of those who had gone before me, and those who had yet to travel this escalating route. I began to understand that earth stewardship was sacred because it requires one to think across time and space.
Mormonism is unique because it offers crystallized concern to past persons and societies through sacred scripture and temple work. The importance of sustainable societies, and a subsequent healthy earth, is illuminated often in the Book of Mormon. Frequently, the Lord’s blessing to Book of Mormon societies is articulated as prospering in the land. Our societies reliance on a prosperous earth has never been more important than now.
Because precious and critical natural resources are exhausted faster than they can be replenished, we have the responsibility to recall scriptural exhortations and temple purposes – to think broadly and unselfishly across time and space. As Latter-Day Saints, we have the privilege to understand and apply one of the Book of Mormon’s central messages – Christ’s concern for his other sheep – and consider what impact our behaviors might disproportionately have on those across the world. When we over-consume or pollute, the negative externalities are increasingly damaging to the other sheep in locations more vulnerable to changes in the climate.
The Restoration was (and is) a message of grand rescue. Latter-Day Saints are fortunate enough to have the knowledge of the worth of souls and the ultimate destiny of the earth. It’s my personal hope that the Spirit of Elijah will play an important role in helping us think generationally – or, again, across time and space. If the hearts of the fathers turn to the children, and child to father, then our society will have an increased ability to avoid the patterns of societal and environmental collapse to which we are susceptible. To think about our ancestors and our descendants indicates a wisdom that transcends time. There has never been a better time to make changes in our life that lessen the damage and pollution to our eternal home.
As a young boy in the woods, the mountains turned my heart toward the Father. It’s my hope that we, as Latter-Day Saints, may all turn to the Father through our Mother Earth.