The following guest blog was written by counseling and educational psychologist Clare Pierson (http://www.hesed.net.nz/) who lives in Mawhera Greymouth, Aotearoa New Zealand. Welcome, Clare!
As World Environment Day (June 5) approaches, I ask myself these questions:
“Who am I? Where am I standing? What is my unique task?”
The writings of one Jesuit — the mystic, scientist, and theologian who set alight the spark first enkindled in me by my childhood immersion in the bushes, the flowers, fish, birds and animals, the creeks, rivers, lakes and ocean of my home on the West Coast of the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand — provide the foundation for my responses. The radiant warmth of his face and the way in which his writings gave words to my felt experiences of the Divine have influenced my thinking and life for over 50 years.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, born 1 May 1881 in Sarcenat, France, died on Easter Sunday, 10 April 1955. Just three years before, as a teenager, I was inspired and filled with relief by what he wrote in Le Milieu Divin. Concerns about the environment had not reached the prominence then that have developed since his death, but what he wrote provides a sound basis for caring for our Earth and all beings in her.
In the beginning was the Power, intelligent, loving, energising.
In the beginning was the Word, supremely capable of mastering
and moulding whatever might come into being in the world of matter.
In the beginning there was not coldness and darkness: there was the Fire!
This is the truth. It is the Light, existing before all else was made,
Which patiently, surely eliminates our darkness.
(The Mass on the World)
The Origin of Love
Trinity, Love (1 John 4), a perichoresis, a dance of Beings in love, a Communion or Community of love before time and space erupted into being. Love by nature gives, love flows out beyond the self and brings new life – there was the great flaring forth of Love from this Community of Love that began the ongoing creation of all that is. All energy in the universe is the love of the Source of all Being poured out and manifested as matter and energy/spirit/mind. The universe spoken by the Word Incarnate, began to develop 13.7 billion years ago and continues to be expressed in ongoing evolution. All communions, past present and to come, are one communion.
Every being in the universe, from the smallest particle to the most intelligent human, has a “within” (subjectivity, interiority – spirit, autopoesis, type of sentience or consciousness) and a “without” (outside – matter). Spirit and matter are but different manifestations of the same thing and one can change into the other.
According to Teilhard, from the very beginning there was the potential for life, for the development of increasing consciousness, and a trajectory in the unfolding of the universe, of Earth, being drawn forward from the future by the Christ, the Omega. If there were not, there would be no life, no consciousness and no trajectory now. Every being, everything in our environment, is sacred, worthy of respect and nothing is profane in Earth.
For the Christian believer, the universal consecration, the universal communion concentrates all effort and work on earth, all suffering on earth, in a convergence upon God and the reality of Jesus the Christ, Omega. Teilhard wrote that the most compelling and profound way of describing the evolution and trajectory of the universe would be to trace the evolution of love from the flaring forth of Love at the beginning of time and space to a unity of all beings drawn by Love from the future by Christ Omega into one Community of Love in Christ – in God. All beings, not just human beings, are One and are sacred.
Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world
Seek each other so that the world may come into being.
(Cosmos to Cosmogenesis)
So who am I and where am standing this World Environment Day?
I am a sacred being brought forth from Earth by Earth with an interiority and a body — spirit and matter — one whole, unique being caught up in a web of being, of life that is totally interconnected in relationship. I stand on and in earth as a being who owes my existence to all the evolutionary processes and who was brought forth by all the beings who came before me. I am part of the ecosystems of this land, dependent on the ecological sustainability of my environment, of all beings in it and of Earth as a whole.
I belong to the first species
– that was and is the Universe able to reflect on itself and
– that is able to make free choices that can affect — for good or ill — every other being in the universe.
What is my unique task?
I and my fellow humans possess an enormous responsibility to continue that trajectory of love in the evolving universe. My unique task is
– to become who I really am
– to live according to the dynamic processes of the universe and in relationship with all other beings;
– to promote the health of the earth, myself and other beings;
– to avoid doing anything destructive of Earth, myself and other beings;
– to allow myself to be allured by, drawn consciously within the radiant beings all around me;
– to deepen contemplative oneness with Love in all that is.
Each day I need to become more attuned to the numinosity, the radiance of everything around me, to “see” in the essential way as described by Teilhard, and at the same time to seek out knowledge, to be mindful of being one with what Teilhard calls the noosphere, the “envelope of human thought around Earth,” to ensure that I am ever open to responding to where the Christ Omega is drawing me forward from the future.
O God, I wish from now on to be the first to become conscious
Of all that the world loves, pursues and suffers.
I want to be the first to seek, to sympathise and suffer;
The first to unfold and sacrifice myself to become
More widely human and more nobly of the earth
Than any of the world’s servants.
God who is Love, may I, may we, filled with your gifted fire of Love, Light, and Life, follow in the same footsteps as Teilhard, drawn by Christ Omega, as we live in life enhancing ways for all beings, all Earth, the whole universe. Amen.