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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Great Chain of Being: Weekly Summary

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Great Chain of Being

Summary: Sunday, February 1-Friday, February 6, 2015

The Great Chain of Being helps us understand that, indeed, God is everywhere! (Sunday)

Animals give God glory just through their simple existence. (Monday)

“Every being is a spark of the Divine, or God. Look into the eyes of the dog and sense that innermost core. When you are present, you can sense the spirit, the one consciousness, in every creature and love it as yourself.” —Eckhart Tolle (Tuesday)

God first seems totally beyond and transcendent, fully opposite of (or fully Other than) the outer world of things, nature, animals, and plants. It is the unique capacity of the soul to gather them into one and see them as one. (Wednesday)

Either we acknowledge that God is in all things, or we have lost the basis for seeing God in anything, including ourselves. (Thursday)

The whole Earth and all of creation is participating in God’s loving redemption, liberation, and salvation. (Friday)


Practice: Loving Creation

We naturally move from the concrete to the universal, and so it makes sense to begin loving Earth, caring for God’s creation, with what is closest to us. Becoming intimate with God’s presence in one aspect of creation—be it a pet, a familiar birdsong, a garden, or favorite wild space—can move us toward loving the rest of the world through compassionate actions.

Let yourself be drawn today and in the coming week to a particular created thing. Spend time observing it and coming to know it better. Use all your physical senses and your heart as well. Study this creature to learn more about its characteristics, the niche it fills in an ecosystem, its various needs and contributions to the balance of life-death-life.

As you come to love this unique creation, let your embrace widen to include all the things it touches—water, air, minerals, plants, animals, humans, and the rest of the earth. You might feel called to a specific, tangible way of loving this being and its community, perhaps through one of these practices:

  • Grow a garden and feed it with compost (raising your own food is a nourishing and meaningful way to connect with and care for Earth; eating less meat puts less strain on Earth’s resources; native plants provide habitat and food for bees, butterflies, and birds; composting reduces landfill waste and nourishes the soil).
  • Travel sustainably (walk, ride a bike, take a bus, carpool, live and shop locally).
  • Learn about environmental policy and let your voice be heard (call or write to a representative; add your name to a petition; join a peaceful demonstration or protest).
  • Simplify (cultivate non-attachment through meditation and find ways of living with less while appreciating more the beauty and abundance of simplicity).
  • Introduce someone else, especially a child, to your beloved creation (take them on a walk in the woods; share a picture and details that make this creation special; invite them to join you in a caring act).

Gateway to Silence:
Loving God in creation

For Further Study:
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi
The Great Chain of Being: Simplifying Our Lives (MP3 download)
Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety
In the Footsteps of Francis: Awakening to Creation (CD, MP3 download)

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