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Center for Action and Contemplation

One Part of Creation

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Nature: Week 2

One Part of Creation
Thursday, November 17, 2016

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 [1]

My friend and fellow Franciscan Jack Wintz has written a book called Will I See My Dog In Heaven? In it he takes the scriptural, Christian, and Franciscan traditions to their logical conclusions and his conclusion is Yes, of course!

As Franciscans, we studied the scriptures and chanted Psalms that were filled with allusions to the natural world and animals. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, it is clear that a loving God includes all of creation in God’s Kingdom. In the Genesis story, God’s love, beauty, and goodness overflow into creation; and all creatures, including humans, are living peacefully in God’s presence. Isaiah prophesies the “peaceable kingdom” to come (11:1-9; 65:17-25). In Revelation, John hears “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe” giving God “blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13). Finally, John sees “a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1) and the Bible ends with a new garden, complete with “the river of life-giving water” and “the tree of life” (22:1-2).

God shows authentic and primal concern for all animals by directing Noah to take a male and female of every species onto the ark (see Genesis 7:2-3) to be saved. After the flood, God makes a covenant, not just with people but with all of creation: “God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I am making between me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth’” (Genesis 9:12-13, emphasis mine). How did we miss that? God’s plan is clearly social, historical, and universal, and not the anthropocentric and individualistic model that most of us grew up with.

Don’t worry: I won’t try to fit the whole Bible into this meditation. But I do encourage you, if you are so inclined, to study Scripture for yourself. Note especially these few selections: Daniel 3:57-82 and Psalms 104 and 148 calling on nature to bless and praise the Lord. As Wintz says, “We are a part of the Creation, not apart from it.” [2] To love something is to be present to its inmost core and dignity. That might well be a definition of contemplation.

Gateway to Silence:
Praised be You, my Lord, through all your creatures. —Francis of Assisi 

[1] Book of Job 12:7-10, Jerusalem Bible; paraphrase, R. Rohr.
[2] Jack Wintz, Will I See My Dog in Heaven? (Paraclete Press: 2009), 29.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, A New Cosmology: Nature as the First Bible, disc 2 (CAC: 2009), CD, MP3 download.

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