Christmas is a time we experience awe and wonder as we gaze at the crib and sing the Carols. We are reminded of creation in all its forms – shepherds, flocks of sheep, an ass, an ox, stars, earth, clouds, light of moon and sun and in “Joy to the world” fields and hills and streams and plains – everything is a caress of God as Pope Francis says in Laudato Si 84,85. “God has written a precious book whose letters are a multitude of created things present in the universe and no creatures is excluded from this manifestation of God: from panoramic vistas to the tiniest living form, nature is a constant source of wonder and awe”.
We are encouraged to embrace an ecological spirituality when we can support one another in deeper contemplation of the gift of God’s creation. Long before the theologians came up with the phrase “Deep Incarnation” the Poet Patrick Kavanagh was aware that God can be experienced in nature. His poem ‘The One’ expresses this perfectly
Green, blue, yellow and red –
God is down in the swamps and marshes
Sensational as April and almost incred-
ible the flowering of our catharsis.
A humble scene in a backward place
Where no one important ever looked
The raving flowers looked up in the face
Of the One and the Endless, the Mind that has baulked
The profoundest of mortals. A primrose, a violet,
A violent wild iris – but mostly anonymous performers
Yet an important occasion as the Muse at her toilet
Prepared to inform the local farmers
That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful God
Was breathing His love by a cut-away bog.
Here at St. Mary’s we have added a wild life pond, a bug – hotel (to help the pollinators overwinter) and an area for rewilding. We are blessed with our Eco Gardiners, Jimoh and Faith, who have not read Laudato Si, but love the Earth, our common home.
The Earth has power to heal us and part of that is meeting God in creation with awe and wonder. Awe makes us stop and stare and is more of an emotional reaction which leads us towards amazement into mystery. Wonder makes us stop and ask questions. Albert Einstein wrote that the most beautiful thing we can experience is mysterious but he had little time for those who are too busy to stop and stare.
A former teacher of mine suggests that we try to look at the world as St. Francis did, paying attention not just to doves and wolves but rather to flowers and worms. He suggests that we let the scales fall from our eyes when it comes to seeing the world as it really is.
A thought from John O’Donohue
I give thanks for arriving
Safely in a new dawn,
For the gift of eyes
To see the world,
The gift of mind
To feel at home
In my life.
The waves of possibility
Breaking on the shore of dawn,
The harvest of the past
That awaits my hunger
And all the furtherings
This new day will bring