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A Connected Universe

Everything Is Connected

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

Richard recalls a nature documentary [1] that he watched which revealed the perils and promises of our connected universe:

The world of ecology is so exciting because we’re recognizing from all of the scientific disciplines that the entire nature of the biological and physical universe is absolutely relational. We’ve discovered that when we change one factor, everything changes. I was watching a show on birds recently, and I learned about red knots that migrate annually all the way from Tierra del Fuego to certain Arctic islands north of Hudson Bay. Thousands of miles! I said to myself, “Wouldn’t they be happier if they did not do that every year?” But no, this is their destiny, to fly north some 9,000 miles each season. They stop in the middle of their journey on particular beaches along the Delaware Bay. There they always ate the recently-laid, protein-rich eggs of horseshoe crabs. Those eggs would give them enough energy to get all the way to the Arctic.

Well, we good Americans decided that horseshoe crabs were sort of ugly and not very useful for many things, but they do make excellent bait and attract eels and conch in great numbers. So we started using them for fish bait and killing these crabs indiscriminately. It took about ten years to recognize that the beautiful red knot might soon be extinct! So researchers observed and studied, and they found multiple possible answers, such as climate change, along with coastal development. But you have probably guessed one of the main reasons: we were killing the shorebirds’ life source. As soon as horseshoe crabs were more protected against use as bait, we saw a return of the lovely little red knot. The birds again had available protein they could eat on the shores of New Jersey and make it all the way to the Arctic. But it’s going to take, apparently, several decades for them to be fully restored.

Now this example might seem like such a simple, unimportant thing. And yet a spiritual seer, one we would call a mystic, would recognize that God did not create horseshoe crabs or red knots for no reason. They are a part of the entire ecology or spiritual plan. I just offer this as one little example of the ecologically-interconnected and interpenetrating world that we’re all a part of. But we have to be curious to see it!

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.” [2] We’re already there, but we haven’t been trained to see ourselves there. This is in fact the “new cosmology” through which we have to be retrained to see the world. Suddenly we realize, of course, that God is not “out there,” but God is in all, through all, and with all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

References:

[1] Allison Argo, “Crash: A Tale of Two Species,” Nature, season 26, episode 7 (New York: Thirteen/WNET, 2008).

[2] Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2003), 45.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, A New Cosmology: Nature as the First Bible (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2009), CD, MP3 download.

Explore Further. . .

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.

Story from Our Community:

I have had trouble coping with my anger. I let little things that come into my life irritate me. My Daily Meditations practice has given me new ways to improve negativity. Experiencing the peace and love of God and the oneness of everything, I am able to cope with this anger. I come away with a new perspective on my life through meditation.
—Phillip P.

Share your own story with us.

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.

Listen to the prayer.

 

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