My church, Christ Memorial Reformed Church in Holland, MI, is sponsoring a big event (Climate Change: A Compelling Case for our Care of Creation) on May 18 (9:30AM – 12:30PM), featuring world -renowned Christian biologist, Dr. Cal DeWitt. Being immersed in planning for this event has made me even more aware of the marvel of God’s creation and our responsibility to care for it. Here are some quotes I read recently that I really like:
We Have No Excuse
Previous generations did not have our knowledge and understanding of how delicate our biospheric home really is. But we have no excuse. We know. . . what we are doing to the magnificent membrane of life on God’s earth. And, by coming into our own as the children of God, we can respond to the groaning of an abused creation by nurturing it carefully. By Dr. Cal DeWitt in Wondrous Cycles of Life, Sojourners magazine, July, 2012.
The root of my vocation is in my delight in God’s creation . . . . It’s a world so convicting of God’s divinity and everlasting power that everyone is without an excuse for not knowing something about God from his delightful creation. Our delight calls for our study, our seeking out, and our full investigation of this marvelous creation! . . . we are called to go about reclaiming creation for our Lord, knowing that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. By Dr. Cal DeWitt, adapted from Earthwise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care.
Mind Boggling Diversity
We come from God and return to God, and in the ‘interim’ we live in the presence of God–even when we do not know or acknowledge it. We are created in the image of God (the entire universe reflects God’s glory, each and every creature and thing in its particular, concrete, unique way). Creation is a panoply of mind-boggling diversity, a myriad of outrageously extravagant species and individuals who all together make up the body of God…. Each creature praises God by simply being itself, by being fully alive. By Sally McFague in Life Abundant
Notice the Glory
To pray is to take notice of the wonder, to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the divine margin in all attainments. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living. It is all we can offer in return for the mystery by which we live. . . Amidst the meditation of mountains, the humility of flowers wiser than all alphabets–clouds that die constantly for the sake of God’s glory–we are hating, hunting, hurting. Suddenly we feel ashamed of our clashes and complaints in the face of the tacit glory in nature. By Abraham Joshua Heschel in Quest for God
Creation for its Own Sake
When I first joined the Franciscan order in 1961, my novice master told me we could not cut down a tree without permission of the Provincial (the major religious superior). It seemed a bit extreme, but then I realized that a little bit of Francis of Assisi had lasted 800 years! We still had his awareness that wilderness is not just “wilderness.” Nature is not just here for our consumption and profit. The natural is of itself also the supernatural. Both natural elements and animals are not just objects for our plunder. Francis granted true dignity and subjectivity to nature by calling it Brother Sun, Sister Fire, Brother Wind, and Sister Water. No wonder he is the patron saint of ecology and care for creation.
Once you grant subjectivity to the natural world, everything changes. It’s no longer an object with you as the separated and superior subject, but you share subjectivity with it. You address it with a title of respect, and allow it to speak back to you! For so long creation has been a mere commodity at best, a useless or profitable wilderness depending on who owned it. With the contemplative mind, questions of creation are different than those of consumption and capitalism, and they move us to appreciate creation for its own sake, not because of what it does for me or how much money it can make me. For those with spiritual eyes, the world itself has to be somehow the very “Body of God.” What else could it be for one who believes in creationism”? As Paul puts it, “From the beginning until now, the entire creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22), so it is not only an evolutionary body but an eternally pregnant body besides. God’s creation is so perfect that it continues to create itself from within. The Franciscans were not wrong in not cutting down ordinary trees without a very good reason. By Richard Rohr, adapted from Soul Centeringthrough Nature: Becoming a True Human Adult (CD, DVD, MP3)