Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Earth Day, Everyday

"When I first joined the Franciscan order in 1961, my novice master told me we could not cut down a tree without permission of the Provincial (the major religious superior).  It seemed a bit extreme, but then I realized that a little bit of Francis of Assisi had lasted 800 years!  We still had his awareness that wilderness is not just 'wilderness.'  Nature is not just here for our consumption and profit.  The natural is of itself also the supernatural.  Both natural elements and animals are not just objects for our plunder.  Francis granted true dignity and subjectivity to nature by calling it Brother Sun, Sister Fire, Brother Wind, and Sister Water.  No wonder he is the patron saint of ecology and care for creation.

Once you grant subjectivity to the natural world, everything changes.  It's no longer an object with you as the separated and superior subject, but you share subjectivity with it.  You address it with a title of respect, and allow it to speak back to you!  For so long creation has been a mere commodity at best, a useless or profitable wilderness depending on who owned it.  With the contemplative mind, questions of creation are different than those of consumption and capitalism, and they move us to appreciate creation for its own sake, not because of what it does for me or how much money it can make me.  For those with spiritual eyes, the world itself has to be somehow the very 'Body of God.'  What else could it be for one who believes in 'creationsim'?  As Paul puts it, 'From the beginning until now, the entire creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth' (Romans 8:22), so it is not only an evolutionary body but an eternally pregnant body besides.  God's creation is so perfect that it continues to create itself from within.  The Franciscans were not wrong in not cutting down ordinary trees without a very good reason."

--Richard Rohr

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