Yes, you read the title correctly; it’s no typo. Africa itself arrived in America this summer—and it’s an event that apparently takes place every year!
In a recent post by one of Mere Inkling’s earliest subscribers, I learned about the annual Saharan Air Layer. It is an enormous dust cloud that transits the entire Atlantic Ocean and is vital to the western hemisphere, especially the Amazonian rain forests. More about the SAL below.
I find this phenomenon fascinating. It reveals how intricately balanced and interconnected God has created this amazing ecosystem we call earth.
I appreciate this fact, even though I don’t consider myself an environmentalist. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I don’t recycle. What’s more, I would actually like to see brazen polluters incarcerated and tasked with personally cleaning toxic waste dumps . . . but that’s not the theme of this reflection.
It seems to me that part of being truly human, is possessing an appreciation—or even a love—for the world in which our Creator has allowed us to dwell. By love, I mean a deep affection for the flora and fauna, and even the mountains and valleys themselves.
I am not proposing idolatry.
I am in good company in valuing nature. C.S. Lewis found time spent walking in the countryside to be invigorating. It was renewing, for body, mind and soul.
Several years back a book was published with the peculiar subtitle, The Environmental Vision of C.S. Lewis.
The authors of Narnia and the Fields of Arbol explores the way Lewis displays his “ecological” concerns, particularly in his fiction. They also consider J.R.R. Tolkien’s similar attitude.
It is no coincidence that these two men, as soldiers during the Great War, had seen the worst violence humanity could do to nature. The ravages wrought by the orcs surrounding Isengard were echoes of the lifeless terrain of shell-shattered Western Front.
Writing this now, I recall a poem I wrote for Curtana: Sword of Mercy.
“A Foreshadowing of Epics” begins:
Filthy trenches greeted the novice soldiers’ eyes,
their two imaginations envisioned greener lands.
Crimson combat splashed red their vision,
and colored portraits one day painted with their words.
The frontlines were barren,
scarred earth stripped of all life.
Fallen trees mimicked casualties,
not even the smallest of creatures escaped death.
It may seem ironic to some that those very fields now are green, and teeming with life. It is the mercy of God that restores the scarred and heals the broken. And, as impressive as those miracles are evident in nature, they are far more wondrous when it is human lives that are transformed and resurrected.
So it is that I find the wonder of the barren and seemingly lifeless Saharan dust bringing nutrients to hungry forests on the other side of the earth amazing. No mere accident that.
If Jesus delays his return and this globe continues to spin for more centuries still, I would not be surprised to see the Americas returning to Africa a similar gift of life.
Weather.com has a short video about the Saharan Air Layer here.