Creation itself is the first incarnation of Christ, the primary and foundational “Bible” that reveals the path to God. —Richard Rohr
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. —Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as only the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth. —Thich Nhat Hanh
This is a differently shaped universe than many of us thought—and leads to a very differently shaped spirituality. As Bill Plotkin says, spirituality becomes a “sinking back into the source of everything.” Suddenly we realize, of course, that God is not “out there,” but God is in all, through all, and with all. —Richard Rohr
How can we use nature to cultivate an awareness of God? How do we enter a space of reverence, where there are no walls and no ceilings and yet where we find a room we share with Creator Spirit? —Sophfronia Scott
The world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The world is part of our own self and we are a part of its suffering wholeness. —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
An Ecological Examination of Conscience
Francis of Assisi called animals “Sister” and “Brother” and viewed humans as one part of a wider family of creation. Franciscan writers Ilia Delio, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood recommend adapting a historic Christian practice of “examination of conscience” to focus on how we have harmed or helped our relationships with the Earth:
To prepare to do an ecological examination of conscience, take a few minutes to quiet yourself and enter into a state of prayer. Going back over your day or week, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my whole life centered on God’s overflowing love in my life, revealed through Jesus and through all of creation? . . .
- Do I accept with a grateful heart the gifts of God’s goodness and diversity in creation? . . .
- Do I pray for the forgiveness of sins between humans and the created world, and for the healing and reconciliation of our broken relationship with creation? . . .
- Have I used my God-given gifts to honor and protect the diverse, interdependent, fragile nature of all life and to preserve it for all future beings? . . .
- Have I stolen from or damaged the habitat of other creatures by wasting or consuming more than I need? . . .
- Do I seek to eliminate from the world whatever keeps all creatures from their full development intended by their Creator: pollution, greed, overconsumption, loss of habitat, disease, war, extinction of species, oppressive laws and structures? . . .
- Have I encouraged others to take care for creation seriously? . . .
After spending time with these questions, hold in your mind and heart the ways in which you have lived in disharmony with creation. . . Offer these mistakes up to God and ask for the strength and the wisdom to learn to live with integrity within the web of creation.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Ilia Delio, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood, Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2008), 100–101.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on God in every thing and every one.
- Read Sallie McFague on climate change and an ethic of self-emptying.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 7-9 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image Inspiration: We often look up to appreciate the universe, but this massive universe is not only above us. It’s also under us, around us, and in us. It connects us all—stars, palm plants, grasses, humans and turtles alike.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.