Holy Ground

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the sky proclaims God’s handiwork. Day and night declares praise to God through all the earth”

From the psalmist, we hear: The earth is an expression of the Creator. The Earth proclaims God’s grandeur. The psalms announce: the trees clap their hands, the flowers lift up their heads, the rain caresses and the world speaks without words to announce God’s presence, the day and the night point us to the Holy One. My friends, we stand on Holy Ground: Sacred Mother Earth, Divine Sister Sun, Enchanting Brother Moon.

From the prophets we hear: 4The earth and the heavens dry up and withers, 5The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; The earth is utterly broken, the earth is torn asunder, the earth is violently shaken.

That sounds like a twenty-first century prophet. It sounds more like Al Gore than what we think of as Isaiah, but there it is echoing warning 2500 years ago. The prophets are clear, before microscopes and technology, before scientific data and records, before satellite images of melting polar ice, warning sounded to those most in tune with the Creator, they shouted, “tread lightly!” As impossible as it might have seemed at one point, humans have the power to destroy the earth.

That sounds like a David and Goliath story for sure. The average weight of a human is 180 pounds. The earth’s mass is 5.972 sextillion (1,000 trillion) metric tons- that’s a 5,972 followed by eighteen zeroes. We peer into the depths of the Grand Canyon; we take hours to fly over the Atlantic ocean; we are in awe at the majesty of the highest mountains, and we stand amazed at six million cubic feet of water that cascades down Niagara Falls every minute. To think that we, mere 180 pound humans, could destroy the life of a 6 sextillion living organism sounds absurd. Maybe that’s why we ignore the prophets who have been waving a red flag for 2500 years saying, “ stop! You are headed off a cliff!” We wave them aside as silly and say, “ oh, no, we are doing just fine. It’s a big earth; it can take all we have to offer – or rather – it can give all we desire to take.”

The ancient wisdom of our people tell us Creation points us to God. Tread lightly for we walk on Holy Ground.

The truth is we have a relationship problem. We have forgotten our relationship. We have forgotten creation hods the divine. We have forgotten that we are part of a larger expression of the Divine. We have forgotten that we are interconnected to all of creation. We have forgotten our place in the universe. We have forgotten our place in the relationship.

It is not that we never knew it. Our ancestors knew it. The earth-based peoples of the world knew their place. They knew reverence for the Earth.

At the core of Native American, Aboriginal, Celtic spirituality is a deep reverence for the Creator and all that the Creator made: the earth, all forms of life, the rocks, the sky, the sun, the stars, the heavens. Franciscan friar Richard Rohr recently wrote that the first incarnation God made of God’s self was not Jesus Christ but was in the very moment of creation of the universe expansion. God incarnate- God’s bodily form is Creation.

We have a God-problem, for we anthropomorphized God. We tried to conceptualize God, and that’s hard. Our human brains struggled so. We put God in human image to make it easier for us to relate to. God became a man-like figure, long flowing robe, white beard, with hands and eyes – just like ours. That made God more like us, and us more like God- little gods, demigods. You can see the dangers of where this went. We didn’t image God as the Great Eagle. That would make eagles more like God than humans. We didn’t image God as the Great Serpent. That would make those vile serpents more God-like than humans. No, we gave God human features. We told a story of creation that ends with the entrance of humans. We crowned creation with humanity as is to say, “it doesn’t get any better than us.” We told our story that the world was in deed made for man. The world in fact belongs to mankind, so if it is ours we have every right to do with it as we please. Then we said it is our task to rule the world, to dominate it, to conquer it- as though it were an enemy in need of suppression. So we have. We conquered it, measured it, drawn up deeds to it, cut down the forrest, plowed under the grasses, poured our toxins into streams and bellowed them into the air. All the while the prophets screamed, “No!” and the earth groaned in despair.

We can’t change the way people behave towards the world, until we change the way we think about the world. We won’t stop killing it until we recognize a new paradigm of creation and humanity and the interrelation of the two and even a new paradigm of God. We won’t care for the world until we love it as Holy and divine. Mother Earth, Sister Sun, Brother Moon, filled with Sacred Beings praising Creator.

What do we see in Jesus that might inform our understanding of Creation? What was Jesus’ relationship to Creation? His teaching stories were filed with seeds and vines, birds of beautiful plumage, pearls of great price, wheat and harvest, waters of life, fields of lilies dressed in splendor. We are told that he frequently went out while it was still dark – or even spent the entire night – under the canopy of a star-strewn sky. That’s where he went for prayer and union with the Holy One. John’s gospel tells us of Mary Magdalene’s visit to an empty tomb on Easter morning. She encounters post-Easter presence of Jesus in what she sees as a gardener. I always found that intriguing. Jesus appeared looking like a gardener. I wonder why? Had he been tending the dirt, the flowers, was there a smudge of dirt on his cheek? Was it a gardener who best expressed the connection to Jesus for Mary, the one in whom she could see her Rabonni was one of Creation’s praise to God.

Theological ethicist H. Richard Niebuhr said, “The love of the Creator requires love of creation.”

Fall in love with all that praises , points to, announces, expresses the Divine. Fall in love with the Holy Ground as a Sacred Being, a Sacred Body of God.Fall in love with Creation as a portal to the Creator. Honor it, and draw close to the One who made it, us and all. May it be so.