Nature as the First Bible
Bearing the Divine Fingerprint
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
If you would learn more, ask the cattle,
Seek information from the birds of the air.
The creeping things of earth will give you lessons,
And the fishes of the sea will tell you all.
There is not a single creature that does not know
That everything is of God’s making.
God holds in power the soul of every living thing,
And the breath of every human body.
–Book of Job 12:7-10
It is strange that we should have to write, assert, or try to prove what should be obvious: everything bears the divine fingerprint, footprint, and “similitude.” The people from the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam should have been the first to enjoy this shared truth, beauty, and goodness. These are the ones who assert that “there is one Creator God who made all things”! Yet it has usually been the Native religions, the Hindus, the Jains, and the Buddhists who have more honored the other creatures and the natural world.
The monotheistic religions (also known as the Religions of the Book), each in their own way, overly intellectualized those very books. They became fodder for scholars and sectarians instead of opening paths to transformation for everybody. We usually gutted them of cosmic significance, reflecting their time in history, and used scriptures to assert our tribal superiority over other religions and certainly over all other creatures, so much so that they could not really see what should have been clear, obvious, and compelling. Some have called it an idolatry of words.
Defying any logic or “theologic,” many seem to assume that to grant goodness or glory to the creatures was to take away from the glory or goodness of the One who created them! Others think that to grant any conception of soul to creation itself, to animals, or anything beyond human beings, is to lessen our own eternal soul. Yet our very words “animate object” might reveal a deeper intuition: animate comes from the Latin anima, breath or soul. Do wise people not usually intuit the soul of things? In fact, might that be the very nature of wisdom?
My guess is that human consciousness was just not ready for it yet, except for the mystics and poets in every group and old souls like Job, whose words you read above. For most of human history we have largely been at a survival level, and thus dealing with an infantile or at best adolescent psyche. A young soul has not yet developed enough empathy, healthy self-criticism, and self-confidence to see beyond itself as the reference point and the only point of interest—even to God. And if God is not interested or in love with nature, why should we be? (I was told recently that the very word “empathy” was not in English dictionaries till the year 1909. We only have words for things that name what we have experienced.)
Gateway to Silence:
Let all the earth bless the Lord.
Adapted from “Every Creature Is a Word of God,” Radical Grace, Vol. 24, No. 2, Spring 2011, p. 3;