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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 (our major religious superior). A little bit of Francis lasted 800 years! You see, wilderness is not just wilderness, utilitarian, or expendable. The natural world is not just an object for our consumption; it is much more for our reverence. Francis granted relational subjectivity to the natural world when he called it variously “Brother Sun,” “Sister Fire,” “Brother Air,” and “Sister Water” (from “The Canticle to Brother Sun,” the first piece of known poetry in the Italian language). Nature itself deserved respect, mutuality, friendliness, and “voice”!

Once you grant subjectivity to the natural world, everything changes. Things out there are no longer mere objects with you as the controlling subject, but you now share mutuality with all things. Be careful, this will change your life! For so long now, creation has been a mere commodity, and wilderness has been an arbitrary add-on, a mere backdrop for our human dramas. But we were the only actor on the stage that God cared about, it seemed! Says who? This soul lie is now catching up with us. The contemplative mind does not see things in terms of consumption or capitalistic advantage. It is a new set of eyes, given by God, that allows us to appreciate creation in itself, and for its own sake, until the end, when “There is only Christ: He is everything and He is in everything” (Colossians 3:11). An authentic believer should be on the front lines of such seeing “so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Adapted from Soul Centering Through Nature: Becoming a True Human Adult (webcast) (CD/DVD/MP3)

Starter Prayer:
I am part of the whole.