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Creation Care – Loving Creation

October 27, 2020

The picture isn’t the best (from too far away and cropping it didn’t help much), but this picture represents a sacred moment that Denise and I had in the Rocky Mountain National Park at Sheep Lake. The moose in Sheep Lake… he just didn’t care… I’ll make it a Moose Lake, he said, and share it with the duck! For five years we had the honor of being guests in our wild neighbors home. Along with that honor we encountered moments of awe and wonder.

The Rocky Mountain National Park has taken a serious hit thanks to the East Troublesome and Cameron Peaks wildfires. It has been hard for us to watch this unfold from Georgia. As I wonder about our wild neighbors and how they are faring in this challenging time, I also have to wonder how humanity’s bad behavior has contributed to this disaster. Climate change is very real and it has been impacting the world for quite some time now. Our mistreatment of the environment has accelerated the change.

In Genesis 1:26 we read how humankind was made in the image of God and how God gave them “dominion” over creation. Radah (רָדָה) is found in twenty-seven passages in the Hebrew Scriptures. In every instance the word is used to reflect “rule” or “dominion” over a kingdom or a people. I have struggled with this concept and the way in which that verse is used by christians to justify the rape of the planet by humankind. I know that is a serious phrase, but this is a serious issue and we literally are raping the planet.

Thanks to Abbey of the Arts (https://abbeyofthearts.com) and our online Abbess, Christine Valters Paintner, I have come to a better understanding of how to respond to creation from a different perspective. For instance, I didn’t shoot the picture of the moose or take it. When you slow down to simply be still, you can receive such wonderful gifts. The practice is called Visio Divina or Sacred Seeing. I received this shimmering gift. We had another experience when we were hiking in the park and out of the corner of my eye I saw the antler of a bull moose! I believe that he called out to us in a very real sense. As a result of listening, we were gifted with forty-five minutes to simply be with him. The result was an incredible experience of the holy.

It was afternoon nap time for this fellow and he didn’t mind us sitting with him from a safe distance using a telephoto lens!
At the end of our time together he posed for pictures before sauntering off into the brush.

Such a beautiful moment we will cherish forever. This also gives us a very vivid picture of the effects of the wildfires. Over the five years we were there, we got to know various wild ones because of their distinct way of presenting and because of specific markings or antler patterns.

The reason that I began reflecting on creation and our dance with the sacred is because I began reading Christine’s book, The Wisdom of Wild Grace (https://abbeyofthearts.com/books/the-wisdom-of-wild-grace-poems/). This is a book to savor, not to plow through. I have finally had some time to savor it today. She had me at the introduction, specifically page 12. That was the genesis of my own musings and this blog post. What we need most right now is a revolution of love. We desperately need to fall in love with creation so that everything we do reflects this love… to see the world in a new way, to make time to sit outside and cherish the breezes or to fall more in love…

Thomas Merton in his book, New Seeds of Contemplation, writes about creation and Genesis in his reflection called The General Dance. I love how Merton reflected on creation and the wonder and awe of it throughout his life. Journal entries and photographs reveal the love Merton had for all things living.

This following quote speaks to my heart about creation and the sacred dance. What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what He Himself takes most seriously. At any rate the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance… Yet the fact remains that were are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance. (pp. 296-297)

So we race back and forth in our daily tasks and rarely seem to slow down. That is the way of the Protestant Work Ethic I guess. But if we “work” so hard that we miss the mystery that is life, love, and creation, I think we completely miss the plot. As for me? I think I am going to do more than look out of the office window at church. I believe I will go out and savor the wonder of it all and see what Spirit has in store.

8 Comments
  1. pynkoski2 permalink

    The Merton quote is so poetic, as is the way he invokes the natural world as a model for sanctity and embracing God’s will (New Seeds, chat.5)
    We have so much to learn!

  2. Thank you for this post. I’m retired and fortunate that I’m able to drink a cup of coffee most mornings down by the ocean shore. But for the rest of the day, all too often your comment describes me well:
    “So we race back and forth in our daily tasks and rarely seem to slow down. That is the way of the Protestant Work Ethic I guess. But if we “work” so hard that we miss the mystery that is life, love, and creation, I think we completely miss the plot.”
    As for me, I need to take more time to smell the roses in life. Thank you for the prod!

  3. I love this post! It’s a beautiful and needful reflection. Delightful images too. Thank you, Michael. 💜

  4. Dave Miller permalink

    Thank you for this good reflection. I believe that God is the author of this earth and all lit’s creatures. It seems obvious to me that God fashioned it with love. The more we learn to love God, the more we learn to love what God loves. Unfortunately, humans too often have abdicated the responsibility to be caretakers (i.e. ‘have dominion’) and have become careless takers instead.

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