How would we live if we knew the earth was sacred?
How would we live if we believed there was holiness in all?
How would we live?
How would we live?
Why dont’ we live that way now?
Those were the lines of a song we heard during opening prayer yesterday morning at the Spiritual Directors International annual conference I’m attending.
The thing is this: if we are Christians, we know that God is everywhere. That everyplace is holy ground. The everything is touched by the hand of God.
And that reality makes the final line of the song a challenge: Why don’t we live that way?
If we truly believe in God’s indwelling, in the sacredness of all things, how can we treat the earth the way we do? How can we not take better care of it than we do?
I don’t ask that in a preach-y way. I look at my own decisions. There are lot of ways I try to be a good steward. But I also know there are a lot of ways I could do more, ways I could be a better steward of the earth and its resources. And I’m guessing the same is true for you.
Perhaps reminding ourselves that the earth is sacred ground, that there is holiness in all, will help us in our efforts.
I think the Christian paradigm has contradicted these sentiments. We don’t believe “in God’s indwelling, in the sacredness of all things”. The problem has infected this tradition since Pauline dominance of the tradition, perhaps even with the theology of James and John. Even the Gnostic tradition, which at least recognizes a relationship between the spiritual and the material, fails to recognize “God’s indwelling” with its hatred of the material universe.
“The thing is this: if we are Christians, we know that God is everywhere. That everyplace is holy ground. The everything is touched by the hand of God.”
Well we don’t even think this, let alone know it. It seems that if you suggest that “everyplace is holy ground” and that “everything is touched by the hand of God” it suggests some limitations, some separation between God and humanity.
If we really believed that the earth is sacred ground, we might adopt of philosophical approach that the naturalist John Muir adopted which could be captured in his quote: “The very stones seem talkative, sympathetic, brotherly. No wonder when we consider that we all have the same Father and Mother.”
Today, he might have been accused of being a panentheist.
I personally consider myself one. I do believe that God is in everything that he (or she or it) creates. I don’t believe that God has placed us above nature but within it as part of an amazing web of creation. If I had to believe in original sin, which I don’t, then I’d have to say that when our eyes were opened in the garden we became self-conscious of our own existence and lost something. A child-like quality of trust and dependence on God. We misuse our reason in thinking we don’t need God – in whatever form God takes in whatever wisdom tradition he (or she or it) reveals himself (herself or itself).