When we go to beautiful wild places to get away from it all, it is sometimes difficult to describe what we feel. For me, it is an inexplicable feeling of a belonging—a homecoming of sorts. It is a joyful feeling like I have met my soul mate. I want to linger endlessly and I lament when I must return to the steel and cement world.
This feeling of nature—the trees, animals, bugs, rocks, etc—as soul mate says something very profound. For those few hours, days, or however long in beautiful natural surroundings, we are on the threshold of awareness that we are a part of all of the earth and all living things that comprise nature. They are all a part of God and his divinity is a part of us and all things. As Jesus has told us in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, “All that is born, all that is created, all the elements of nature are interwoven and united with each other.”
Recognition of this truth has implications. One is that we are participating in an evolution of the earth and all life on it. We are but one species among many on a trajectory of growth in consciousness and spiritual awareness. This knowledge carries with it great responsibility. If all things are a part of God, then all things are sacred and demand our reverence, respect, compassion, and protection.
Although we may see humanity as superior to other forms of life, God may not share such an egocentric view. If that is the case, then other species may hold potential for development equal to us in God’s eyes. It could be that they are just not as far along in their evolution as we.
Thomas Berry believed that God placed humanity within the natural order rather than above it. It is our arrogance as a species that sees itself as the one most pleasing in the eyes of God. Given the direction that humanity has taken in recent history, this may not be the case.
If God is everywhere and in all things, then exploitation and destruction of our planet and the life it holds are affronts to God. It is our arrogance in believing that our science and technology can master the forces of nature or improve on what God has created that has led to our current environmental, social, and spiritual crisis.
At the same time, I see a quiet, unobtrusive movement in progress. I see more and more people exhibiting various levels of spiritual enlightenment concerning the environment. I see small steps that help to reduce harm to the planet like buying organically grown foods, moving away from a meat-centered diet toward a more vegetarian diet, avoiding genetically modified food products (GMOs), greater sensitivity to animal rights, recycling, driving hybrid or electric cars, and so forth.
While these may seem like small things, they suggest a growing awareness of what has been discussed here. They are indications of the beginning of a step forward in spiritual evolution and awareness that will change the world in so many wonderful ways.
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