Creation & Recreation
To cherish creation and to care for it, to take it and remake, is essential to all human life and activity. It is the bedrock of our spiritual life. Our Lord’s Incarnation renewed the relationship: the spiritual reality of Divinity with the material universe. His work as a carpenter was a ‘hands on’ reshaping of the created world. His constant reference to the environment in his teaching is the fruit of careful and prayerful observation of birds, flowers, the sky and the people at work on the land. Our personal relationship with God, our prayer, is enriched and informed by God’s good creation. The sacramental life of the church is an expression of the truth that the material world of the visible creation is our chief means of knowing and connecting with the invisible creation of the realm of the Spirit.
The wondrous truth of this dynamic interaction between the material and spiritual is that it is the stuff of daily living. Everything from making a cup of tea to hanging out the washing is a creative engagement with God’s gracious provision to us, and a use of the gifts he has given us to be co-workers and stewards of creation. There is a truth in Dorothy Gurney’s lines: ‘The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth’. Perhaps there is a greater truth in saying ‘we are nearer to God when we till the ground and tend the plants in a garden than anytime else on earth’.
We have to be vigilant and careful that we do not slip into the materialistic mind-set of contemporary culture. One consequence of a living in a consumer society is that it centres the material world on the appetites and desires of the individual. Christians are called to be contemplative co-workers with God in creation and not voracious exploiters. The contemporary trend towards ‘Green Theology’ and ‘Creation Spirituality’ are responses to this vocation. I would prefer to see it as a recalling to orthodoxy: to the ‘right way’ or ‘true glory’ of living as a Christian. Another way of interpreting this vocation to ‘active contemplation’ is to understand it as a call to ‘Eucharistic Living’.
Eucharist simply means ‘thanksgiving’. I understand this to be an approach to life that is lived in a conscious thankfulness for God’s goodness in creation; in a reverence and respect for every physical detail of daily life; a prayerful consecration of what we see, hear, taste and touch; looking at all things through the lens of the revelation in the first chapter of John’s Gospel ‘ All things were made through him and without Him nothing was made that was made’. This thankful living is expressed in generous living. This is the pattern of life embedded in the celebration of every Eucharist.
Living prayerfully in this way opens us the possibility that every meal is a eucharistic experience. Ponder these words: ‘Be gentle when you break bread, the sun has caressed it, the rain has washed it, it holds the salt of the sea and the heat of the oven, be gentle when you break bread’.