Thich Nhat Hanh says that if we fail to enter into physical creation we will fail to find the ground of being behind and within it

It is not clear whether courageous reform will get the Church out of its current predicament. But it is certain that, without such reform, the Church hardly stands a chance.

wherever I am I can be as close to God as anywhere else. The creation is our temple.This was expressed by John thus:Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. … But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth(Jn 4, 21-4).Wherever a human being is, there God is present and there that person can be present to God.The divine love extends to each person, so each person is able, and has the dignity, to stand there in God’s presence and offer worship.Hence, we stand when, through Jesus the Christ, we all intercede for the world in the Prayer of the Faithful.We can all, not just a specially selected few, enter the divine presence. This is what saying “we are a priestly people” means.It is also the reason why the early Christians never referred to their leaders as sacerdotes (priests) but as presbuteroi (elders).By the time Christians started to use the word sacerdotes for presiders at the Eucharist, they were already thinking in the pagan way of a “chosen someone” who worked on their behalf in the “sacred area”.Christians had by then forgotten the cry of Irenaeus: “Christian be aware of your dignity” and that there is only one chosen one, one priest in the New Law: Jesus.He is the “great high priest over the house of God” (Heb 10:21), and we all “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (1 Pet 2:9) who pray through him.A community’s table in a traditional formal arrangement – just because something does not mean it is ideal.And if all the creation comes from God, and all depends on him, then trading with God is blasphemous, and the attitude of love to love is that of gratefulness.We are to be a grateful people. We are to recall what God has done for us in the creation and in the Christ and return thanks through our High priest. Hence the name of our great assembly is “the thanksgiving”, the Eucharist.That we gave it another name by accident, “the Mass”, is a warning of just how easily we made it into one more act of service on the pagan model.Sadly, many still do not even appreciate (as when a parish priest uses it on a notice board) how it is a symptom of forgetfulness!’Neither sacred gardens nor altars’At the end of the second century an apologist for Christianity, Menucius Felix, who was all too aware of the difference between the pagan and Christian visions, made this his great cry.The great Christian act of praise and thanks took place at a table: it was a shared meal of the community at which the Christ is among us.We do not need to go to a special place; our thanksgiving takes place in the ordinary world of tables and chairs in our everyday life. It is at every meal that we are called to make Eucharist happen.Then having been thankful alone or in families, we can appreciate our gathering as a larger family, sisters and brothers in the Lord, who celebrate the great meal of thankfulness.

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From Matt Fox, June 2021

Thich Nhat Hanh says that if we fail to enter into physical creation we will fail to find the ground of being behind it:

If you are not able to touch the phenomenal world deeply enough, it will be very difficult or impossible to touch the noumenal world—the ground of being.

Colored version of the Creation illustration from Martin Luther’s 1534 translation of the Bible. Image by Lucas Cranach on Wikimedia Commons

Behind and within the depth of the phenomenal world there lies the divine presence.

Thus we continue our meditations on the ground of being by celebrating the variety of creation stories that our species is heir to.  Rather than fight about who has the story factually correct, why not celebrate their diversity and the wisdom contained therein?  

Recent science offers us a creation story that is also worth sharing and drawing lessons for living from.

Let us begin with the Hebrew Bible.

In the Hebrew Bible the oldest creation story is found in Psalm 104.  In that psalm we have a telling of the unfolding of Creation that celebrates the existence of the sky, waters, clouds, wind, fire, earth, mountains, thunder, valleys, wild animals,  wild donkeys, birds, grasses, cattle, plants, wine, oil, bread that comes from the soil. The trees, the stork, wild goats, rock-badgers, the moon, the sun, the night, the forest animals, the lions–are all claiming their food from God. meditation on Psalm 104. Video by Darrin Harvey.

Yahweh, what variety you have created,
arranging everything so wisely!
Earth is completely full of things you have made:
among them vast expanse of ocean,
teeming with countless creatures,
creatures large and small,
with the ships going to and fro…

Notice how human ingenuity, in this case ships, is included among the wonders of Creation in the psalmist’s understanding of things.

In the Creation story in Genesis One we are assured that creation is good and very good.

The book of Wisdom (7:17-22) offers still another creation story, one that is evolutionary in its perspective and, like Psalm 104 and Genesis, places humankind near the end of a long unfolding of Creation.  It recognizes that Wisdom and Creation go together.

Traditional medieval medicines being compounded at Kentwell Hall Herbalist’s Room. Photo by Kotomi_ on Flickr.

Simply I learned about Wisdom…
the design of the universe,
the forces of its elements,
beginning and end of time,
changes in the sun’s course, variation of seasons,
cycles of years, positions of stars,
natures of animals,
tempers of beasts,
powers of winds,
thoughts of humanity,
uses of plants,
virtues of roots,
Such things as are hidden I learned,
for Wisdom, the Artisan, taught me. 

This creation story, couched in a beautiful poem, is profoundly evolutionary in its message. It is not at all anthropocentric. First comes cosmology–the design of the universe, followed by its powerful elements, then time, the sun, the seasons, the animals, the powers of wind—and only then come the thoughts of humanity.  

How true it is that 13.8 billion years of unfolding has rendered our species, with our thoughts and creativity and struggles and the rest, possible.  Interdependence is acknowledged.  Gratitude for existence is presumed.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 43, 34f.

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