I was in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado with my family last week. To describe the trip, I could show this photo and write about how I had an intensely mystical experience with God in the mountains.


Which I did. But my trips to the mountains are always simultaneously joyful and mournful. The story I want to tell is about seeing the effects up close of the North American pine beetle outbreak. It’s devastating the Rocky Mountain forests in the U.S. and Canada and growing exponentially each year. The epidemic is occurring because our winters have not been cold enough to stop the beetles from multiplying. Bark beetles are good for the ecosystem, but not in this amount. The fall colors in our evergreen forests are telling us that global warming is no longer something our kids will face; it’s happening now. And it will accelerate if our forests disappear.


But as I mourned, I heard the voice of a man named Fr. Thomas Berry. No one explains our present environmental situation better (and plainer) than this:

The great work of our time, I would say, is moving the human community from its present situation as a destructive presence on the planet to a benign or a mutually enhancing presence. It’s that simple.

From the film Thomas Berry Speaks:

It is that simple. It’s not a political issue. It’s not about saving trees. It’s about our fragile interconnected relationship with other living things, including human beings in vulnerable communities around the world. We know what we need to do, and it comes down to making the decision to be a mutually enhancing presence rather than a destructive one.