Wisdom Circles On Care for Our Common Home December 2015 Chapter 2 – The Gospel of Creation #64 I would like from the outset to show how faith convictions can offer Christians, and some other believers as well, ample motivation to care for nature and for the most vulnerable of their brothers and sisters. If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment…, Christians in their turn “realize that their duty toward nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith.” #66 The Creation accounts in the book of Genesis…, suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with earth itself. #67 The biblical texts are to be read in their contexts, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world. “Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” refers to caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. #76 In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature” for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. #79 In this universe, shaped by open and intercommunicating systems, we can discern countless forms of relationship and participation. This leads us to think of the whole as open to God’s transcendence, within which it develops. Faith allows us to interpret the meaning and the mysterious beauty of what is unfolding. We are free to apply our intelligence toward things evolving positively, or toward adding new ills, new causes of suffering and real setbacks. #83 The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things. … All creatures are moving forward with us and through us toward a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator. #91 A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. ... It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being. #92 We can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if we disregard any aspect of reality. Peace, justice and the preservation of creation are three absolutely interconnected themes, which cannot be separated. Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth. From the Wisdom Tradition – She Who Is – Elizabeth Johnson, “Spirit Sophia” pp. 124-25 I, the highest and fiery power, have kindled every living spark and I have breathed out nothing that can die … I flame above the beauty of the fields; I shine in the waters, in the sun; the moon and the stars, I burn. And by means of the airy wind, I stir everything into quickness with a certain invisible life that sustains all. I, the fiery power, lie hidden in these things and they blaze from me. Hildegard of Bingen If we ask more precisely which moments or events mediate God’s Spirit, the answer can only be potentially all experience, the whole world. There is no exclusive zone, no special realm, which alone can be called religious. Rather, since Spirit-Sophia is the creator and giver of life, life itself becomes a primary mediation of divine mystery. … Whenever we encounter the world, and ourselves as held by, open to, gifted by, mourning the absence of, or yearning for something ineffably more than immediately appears, whether that “more” be mediated by beauty and joy or in contrast to powers that crush, there the experiences of Spirit transpires. The breadth and depth of experience that may mediate holy mystery is genuinely inclusive. The mystery of God undergirds the whole world, the wide range of what can be considered secular or just plain ordinary human life can be the grist for the mill of experience of Spirit-Sophia drawing near and passing by. For Reflection How do the elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition impact your understanding and appreciation of our place in creation? How have your ideas and responses changed over the years? What light does our Wisdom Tradition shine on forming our conscience and consciousness of the unity of life – justice, peace and the integrity of creation? NOTE – These two pages contain only a few highlights from Chapter 2 – The Gospel of Creation. Reading and reflecting on the entire chapter can be rich and rewarding. Wisdom Circles On Care for Our Common Home December 2015 Chapter 2 – The Gospel of Creation Setting – a candle, a cloth, and image or symbol of our common home. Song or Chant – of your choice Reading: Canticle of the Creatures, Francis of Assisi Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor and all blessing. To you alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name. Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. and he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness. Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful. Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance. Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water, she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure. Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful and powerful and strong. Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs. … Praise and bless, my Lord, and give thanks and serve Him with great humility. Response: Colossians 1:12-20 Let us give thanks to God for having made us worthy to share the inheritance of the saints in light. God has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, Jesus Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. In him all things are created, in heaven and on earth, things visible and invisible. All things were created in him; all were created for him. He is before all else that is. In him all things hold together. He is from the beginning, the first- born from among the dead. In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things to himself. Sharing – All have the opportunity to share on the readings and reflections for the month. Wisdom Word – After all have shared, allow a word or phrase to capture the heart of the group’s experience. Circle Prayer – Bring to your circle the people, places and circumstances for which you wish to pray. Closing Prayer: Prayers to Sophia, Joyce Rupp, “Nature Revitalizes my Soul, p. 78 adapted. Womb of Wonder, all of your creation has your life-giving touch. When I come and bow humbly before you, I see how your wisdom breathes in everything. In these sacred seeing moments I learn and relearn truths that free me. When I enter into the domain of your creation, things begin to settle, to become quiet in me, like a windy harbor calming with the sunset. It is there that I find the needed reassurance to stay in the struggle and challenge of life. It is then that I find restored clarity about the “way and the wherefore” of how things are. O Breath of Creation, lead me to your realm of nature where you revivify love for and commitment to caring for our common home.