They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden

George and I have just returned from a week long vacation in Puerto Rico – sunny breezes, beautiful beaches, fascinating history, friendly people and great food. But one of our best experiences was driving and walking through El Yunque rainforest, a one hour drive east of San Juan. What an amazing place a rainforest is! Revered as a holy place for over a thousand years by the prehistoric Taino inhabitants, El Yunque National Forest has been carefully managed by the US National Forest for over 100 years. The Luquillo Mountains rise to 3500 ft above sea level and the steep slopes receive over 200 inches of rain per year, creating a lush forest with immense biodiversity. The journey by trail (or car) to the top of a mountain is so lush you can barely walk. Every inch of ground is covered with tree roots, amazing plants (including orchids), waterfalls and streams of water, lizards, frogs and colorful birds, and sunlight streaming like God’s grace through the umbrella of trees. We didn’t see any snakes, scorpions, or mongoose, but we were told they were there, too. We walked quietly along a trail, listening to the sounds of water trickling and the rustling movement of plants, hoping to catch a glimpse of the birds and creatures we could hear singing and croaking. Everywhere in our vision we could see the mutual interdependence of the plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles – all living in or around each other in perfect harmony. A rainforest is truly a holy place, and we felt like we were walking through the Garden of Eden. The rainforest reveals the beauty, wonder and wisdom of God’s creation.

“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” – Genesis 3:8 The account in Genesis tells us that, although the Lord God had provided everything that the first family needed, and had given them only one restriction, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die”, they gave in to the urgings of a crafty serpent, and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. Later, in their shame, they covered themselves and hid from the Lord God.

How shameful and prophetic it is that rainforests around the world, the biblical model of harmony and mutual interdependence, are disappearing. First, humans ate the fruit of the tree that they were forbidden to eat and next, we destroy the trees. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years. The land is being cleared so we can have mahogany hardwoods and fresh produce all year round. Experts agree that by leaving the rainforests intact and harvesting its many nuts, fruits, oil-producing plants, and medicinal plants, the rainforest has more economic value than if they were cut down to make grazing land for cattle or for timber. More than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest. Let us be more mindful of taking or asking for things we think we need that may destroy our environment and our relationship with God. For more information on rainforests visit

“For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us, Accept our repentance, Lord. ” Ash Wednesday Litany of Penitence, BCP p. 268

Peace, Carol

This entry was posted in The Rev. Dr. Carol M. Flett and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden

  1. Eileen Davis says:

    As always, a great blending of life experience with scripture, legend, data and meaning. Your messages give us much to think about. Thank you again Dr. Flett — how I am going to miss your perspectives!

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