My love for the environment began at an early age, although I didn’t realize it at the time. All I knew was that I loved to be in nature. One of my fondest early memories occurred when I was around eight years old. My family lived in a little town in southern Nebraska and our house abutted a small grove of trees. Although the trees were mostly Chinese elms, not a particularly desirable tree by most standards, they thrived on the rain-deprived prairies of Nebraska. I reveled in my “secret forest.”
One lazy Indian summer afternoon, I lay down on a grassy patch in the sunshine and gazed upward for hours. Puffy clouds floated by against a panoply of waving yellow and crimson leaves from the trees around me. The sun warmed my cheeks, and a gentle breeze tussled my hair. It was an idyllic moment in time that deepened my love for the natural world.
As the years passed in our “Rockwellian” hamlet, I began planting and caring for trees at every opportunity. Eventually, I planted so many in our yard that dad said, in exasperation, “We don’t need any more damned trees around here!” Darn. Oh well, I just turned my passion elsewhere, including trimming the lower branches in another nearby grove, thereby creating a second “secret forest,” planting and watering several trees at the town’s sand-green golf course, and even creating my own little park while working for the City of Nelson, Nebr., during college.
After college, my passion continued and I planted trees wherever an opportunity arose, including along storm-water detention ponds and even in railroad right of ways. It never occurred to me that it wasn’t legal to plant trees in public areas. Actually, I thought I was doing them a favor. Remember, I was a naïve kid from a town of 700 in Nebraska and we never thought of doing good deeds in terms of legal ramifications. At least I didn’t.
Years passed and life was consumed with my career and raising my two young sons with my wife. However, in 1996 something important happened. I’ve always been a curious person and became fascinated with quantum physics. As my understanding of the quantum world grew, including the essential role that consciousness plays in creating reality, it led to an epiphany. Suddenly, I realized that many of the truths revealed by science regarding the quantum world and the basic tenets of religious faith are the same. However, neither side would acknowledge the fact.
This realization was one of the great “aha” moments in my life. Until then, I thought religion was a bunch of hooey thought up by people more interested in controlling others through fear that the only way to God was by following their particular dogma. But now I knew they were right even though there are many paths to God. Around the same time, I discovered Unity. Little did I know how important these two events were going to play in my life.
Mind Over Matter
In 2000, as an officer for Bank of America, I created a volunteer environmental committee in Kansas City. However, the effort was short-lived when, in 2001, I suffered a devastating injury from a fall down some stairs that left me completely paralyzed with about a 10% chance of ever walking again. This was followed by being laid off from my job and divorce from my wife of 30 years. My world was turned completely upside down.
However, because I knew the powerful role that the mind plays with regard to health and happiness, I defied the odds and regained about 90% of my mobility. I also secured a better job and capped things off thirty months from the date of the injury by climbing Mt Elbert, the highest mountain in Colorado. Afterwards, I sent a letter to my caregivers and told them to never use the word “can’t” with their patients.
The ordeal of those times was a wake-up call in every way a person can imagine. I learned many important lessons through these experiences and gained a deep appreciation for every moment because I knew it all could be taken from me in the wink of an eye.
The lessons of my life’s journey were so profound that I wrote a book about them entitled, One Step at a Time, Memoir of a Former Quadriplegic. Among the most important was knowing that what Jesus taught, and what Unity teaches, is true: through faith, belief and committing intention to action, all things are possible. Because of this, never give up on your dreams. I also learned the importance of being kind to one another because we never know what its effect can have on that person’s life.
Inspiration to Make a Difference
My renewed zeal for life also deepened my love for the environment and emboldened me to do what I could to make a difference wherever I could. One of my sources of inspiration was “Epistle Dedicatory to Arthur Bingham Walkley” by George Bernard Shaw. Part of it goes as follows:
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
In 2004, I created a “Green Team” at Unity Church of Overland Park, Kansas. This was followed in 2008 when I, along with several other like-minded visionaries, created Unity Worldwide Ministries’ “EarthCare Program.” Both the Green Team and EarthCare have thrived ever since and are among my greatest joys in life.
My love and appreciation for the miraculous natural world around us has never waned. If anything, it has grown. It is my great pleasure to do all I can, for as long as I am able, to protect and preserve our sacred world for future generations.
[author: Mike McCord]