From the Bottom Up: Introduction
Thursday, January 5, 2017
[The] final end of the Incarnation is the realization of God’s union with the entire universe. —Alan Watts 
What is emerging in our time is the desire for a faith for and of the earth, at long last capable of animating the fullness of our human potential, a potential fulfilled not in realizing divinity by rejecting our humanity, but rather of becoming more fully divine precisely by becoming more fully human. —Brie Stoner 
Franciscans, along with Native spiritualities and mystics of all religions, see less of a separation between the spiritual and the material than most of mainline Christianity. St. Francis happily saw that everything in creation is a reflection of the Creator. Bonaventure taught that everything is a fingerprint or footprint of God (vestigia Dei).
Like creation, humans are growing and evolving. Although we bear God’s image, we must learn to fully allow God’s presence within us to shine and to let our self-made masks fall away. Throughout our lives we have many opportunities—small deaths—to be reborn as our True Selves.
Most of Christianity has been overly influenced by Plato, making body and soul enemies. I believe Christianity’s tragic flaw was not connecting salvation with creation itself. This separation would mean that the first 13 billion years had no meaning for God. How could that be? Francis himself admitted at the end of his life that he should have been kinder to his own body. Perhaps he was coming to understand that body and soul are one, as Jesus assumed.
Once we link salvation to moral worthiness or group belonging, the ego takes over and gets to decide who is worthy of salvation. Hasn’t this been our major problem even to this day? Racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia are still the norm among Christians, it seems. Everything in creation carries divine DNA. How could it not? Our identity comes with the manufacturing! Or as Paul so clearly puts it, “We were chosen in Christ before the world began” (Ephesians 1:4).
For Franciscans, Incarnation is already Redemption. Francis is said to have created the first nativity scene to help others celebrate the profound meaning of Christmas. For us, Christmas is an even bigger celebration than Easter, because for God to be born as one of us in this world among the animals and in a poor family shows that humanity is good, flesh is good, nature is good, and this world is good!
Thus, the trajectory of history is positive. God is saving history, not just individuals. Instead of dreading eternal punishment, we live in faith that the whole map of reality is summed up and revealed in one human life, so we can see it from beginning to end. Inside this evolutionary trajectory, we can see that even “evil” and suffering will be used for good; they are the friction against which evolution’s wheels turn toward wholeness and new forms of life. Christ is both the Alpha and the Omega of history (Revelation 1:8), naming it correctly at the very start and forever alluring it forward. Love is both the cause and the goal of all creation. This is a meaningful universe, and meaning is what the soul needs to thrive.
Gateway to Silence:
Create in me a new heart, O God.
 Alan Watts, Behold the Spirit: A Study of the Necessity of Mystical Religion (Random House: 1972), 112-113.
 Brie Stoner, “Teilhard de Chardin and the Millennial Milieu,” Personal Transformation and a New Creation: The Spiritual Revolution of Beatrice Bruteau, ed. Ilia Delio (Orbis Books: 2016), 154.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, an unpublished talk, Canossian Spirituality Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 3, 2016.