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And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.       Genesis 2: 9


“Pleasant to the sight”? “Good for food”? The present frosty start to 2009 with its clear blue skies and sunshine highlight the things that spring up out of the ground in Jersey - the grass and the trees.


Why bother about a blade of grass? There are so many? Sure, the grass, in field, lawn or golf course, is “pleasant to the eyes”. Sure, each blade is good for (animal) food. What of it?


One thing is its green-ness. Actually, grass isn’t green. Its colour is such that it absorbs every wavelength of colour of the whole of the spectrum of light – EXCEPT one - the green wavelength of light is NOT absorbed but instead reflected. Hence, grass is “pleasant to the sight”.


“Good for food”? Yes, but why? Well, grass is good for cattle food because it contains sugar. There’s sugar in every blade – sugar that gives energy to the animals and that gives rise to muscle and tissue growth. We in Jersey then eat the beef and receive energy and growth ourselves.


So “grass” is, indeed, good. But there’s more.....


Where does the sugar in each and every blade of grass come from? And how does it get there?


The sugar comes from water (H20) that the grass draws into itself from rainfall onto the Jersey soil. Each blade causes this water to react with carbon dioxide (CO2), that unwanted gas that we produce when we breathe and when we burn fossil fuels. The carbon dioxide enters the blade of grass, reacts with the water so as to produce sugar (C6H12O6) and .... and .... oxygen (O2). That’s the oxygen that we breathe in to allow all 90,000 of us to stay alive. Every day.


What causes the water and carbon dioxide to mix? Light. Daylight.


And the system used by every blade of grass occurs throughout trees and plants. Take an apple tree in Jersey – it produces roughly enough oxygen to support four of us in the Island – as well as apples to sustain our lives.


Yes, trees and grass are not only “pleasant to the sight” but also “good for food” and absolutely necessary for us all to stay alive. As is sunlight.


But that’s not all. Despite the very best efforts of scientists and engineers no man has yet been able to replicate by technology the system used by every blade of grass, every leaf of every tree. Oh, yes, we’ve given the system a name - photosynthesis – but that doesn’t mean we can reproduce it (yet) by our technology.


Thank heaven for Jersey grass.


But I’m worried about the steer in the field next door because that’s another thing that no scientist or engineer can do – give life to a dead steer. Give life, make to live anything actually - or any mixture of any thing. All we can do is give “life” a name - life.


Only life gives life. Only photosynthesis sustains life.


A Cambridge University undergraduate studying veterinary medicine and surgery told me a few days ago of his discovery that all the drug treatments in use on animals work by killing or suppressing or altering harmful things that are happening. They remove the situation in which the body is being injured. Once that situation is removed the body must begin to heal itself - medicine can only create the circumstances conducive to this healing.


And I understand that this is also true of human beings …So our life, our nourishment (through photosynthesis) and our healing cannot be replicated and, even today, are not being replicated by our technology or science.


We’d be in a terrible mess if we were asked to hack it alone – no ability to give life (but births occur), no ability to make sugar and oxygen (but every blade of grass does it), no ability to heal our bodies (but they do).

‘Conceit makes a little squirt think that he is a fountain of knowledge.’ (Anon.)
‘Every breathing of pride in its first stirrings, if it had its way, would run and tear the crown off God’s head.’ (Al Martin, Former Minister, Trinity Church, New Jersey)
Richard Syvret

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