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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Natural World: Week 1 Summary

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Natural World: Week 1

Summary: Sunday, March 4-Friday, March 9, 2018

If I can somehow let my “roots and tendrils” reconnect me with the “givens” of life—not the ideas about life, but the givens, the natural world, what is—I experience extraordinary grounding, reconnection, healing, and even revelation. (Sunday)

Soul is the blueprint inside of every living thing that tells it what it is and what it can become. When we meet anything at that level, we will respect, protect, and love it. (Monday)

The whole universe in its wholeness more perfectly shares in and represents the divine goodness than any one creature by itself. —Thomas Aquinas (Tuesday)

From the beginning of the Bible to the end, it is clear that a loving God includes all of creation in God’s Kingdom. (Wednesday)

Jesus taught that if we would “first seek God’s Reign” (Matthew 6:33), and obey his command to “love God and love one another” (Matthew 22:37-40), all the rest would take care of itself. We would no longer defy the laws of nature but seek to live in harmony and sustainability with Earth and all her creatures. (Thursday)

A life of nonviolence leads to oneness with creation and her creatures. —John Dear (Friday)


Practice: Mindful Living

John Dear invites us into a peaceful, nonviolent way of living with creation:

To grow in deeper, loving awareness of our sisters and brothers, the beautiful creatures, and wonders of creation, we practice the art of mindfulness. That means we try not to live in the past or stew over the future. We give ourselves to the present moment of peace and return to the gentleness of our breath as a way to return to the present moment, the eternal now. The Buddhists teach mindful living, mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful working. Every moment becomes an opportunity to step into the present moment of peace.

“We are speaking of an attitude of the heart,” Pope Francis writes, “one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full. Jesus taught us this attitude when he invited us to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, or when seeing the rich young man and knowing his restlessness, ‘he looked at him with love’ (Mk 10:21). He was completely present to everyone and to everything, and in this way, he showed us the way to overcome that unhealthy anxiety which makes us superficial, aggressive and compulsive consumers.” [1]

Putting on the mind of the nonviolent Christ and practicing his nonviolence, we learn to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. When he rose from the dead, he gave his friends the gift of resurrection peace, breathed on them, and said receive the Holy Spirit. He sent them on a global mission of peace and nonviolence. We try to follow Jesus by welcoming that gift of resurrection peace, breathing in his Holy Spirit, and walking in his footsteps in his kingdom of nonviolence. In that mindfulness, everyone shines like the sun.

We recognize every human being as a sister and brother, every creature as a gift from God, and Mother Earth as a treasure to be honored and cared for. We too learn to walk mindfully on earth in the present moment of peace. As we do, we not only non-cooperate with injustice and environmental destruction, model gospel nonviolence, and seek justice and peace for everyone, we help everyone step into the present moment of peace, the kingdom of God. Along the way, we discover that we have already entered eternal life. Eternity has begun. We are here, on earth, in the peaceful presence of the Creator.

[1] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 226,

John Dear, They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change (Orbis Books: 2018), 123-124.

For Further Study:

John Dear, They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change (Orbis Books: 2018)

Richard Rohr, A New Cosmology: Nature as the First Bible (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), CDMP3 download

Richard Rohr and Bill Plotkin, Soul Centering through Nature: Becoming a True Human Adult (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2011), CD, MP3 download

Richard Rohr, The Soul, the Natural World, and What Is (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), MP3 download

Image credit: Two Crabs (detail), by Vincent van Gogh, 1889, Faggionato Fine Arts, London, England.
Every day we have opportunities to reconnect with God through an encounter with nature, whether an ordinary sunrise, a starling on a power line, a tree in a park, or a cloud in the sky. This spirituality doesn’t depend on education or belief. It almost entirely depends on our capacity for simple presence. —Richard Rohr
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