Of Earth


5 Sep 2018

One of the myriad of wonders of being ‘of Earth’ is being able to walk ‘on Earth’. I am reflecting on this gift of walking in light of the theme of this year’s Season of Creation, ‘Walking Together’.

I am blessed to live in a place where I can walk by myself in silence and consciously meditate on where I am. I walk up a hill and am aware of my breathing. This connects me to my own body and I am grateful for all the intricate parts which make me a human person. Just being able to walk safely alone along pathways is a gift which many in crowded mega cities around the globe do not have.

I listen to the still small voice which speaks in my heart as I walk. I appreciate the words of Teilhard de Chardin, ‘There is a communion with God, and a communion with the earth, and a communion with God through the earth.’

I turn a corner looking out to the ocean and spot some whales heading north to breed a new generation. John Feehan reaches out to me from across the seas in Ireland with his observations: ‘Can you ever begin to understand the wonder in the whale “whose eyes are like the eyelids of the morning,” this wondrous mode of being on the earth over whose gestation I have watched through eons while you were but a twinkle in my eye? What do you know of the wonder of its intelligent life, its astonishing evolutionary progress from land to sea? Have you the empathy to reach through our kinship and touch the sensitivity of its subjectivity in its world?’

I descend to the beach and pace myself along the shoreline as the ebb and flow of the waves make foamy patterns on that intertidal connection between the land and the water, the in-between place where life exists under my feet. I ponder that I am of earth as Jesus, the Christ was of earth, as we all are of earth, connected as kin. Australian theologian, Denis Edwards has inspired me: ‘In the incarnation, God embraces not just the human creatures of our planet, but the whole emergent world of biological life.’

Having a sense of grounded-ness in the land connects us to God, the source of our being. The natural elements which are contained in the land are also in us. Aboriginal people know this. We who have come to this land from other places have yet to know this properly. Jesus used the soil to bring sight to the blind man. He asks us to pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth.’

As we walk lightly in this precious earth, take a handful of soil. Focus on where it may have come from, how old it may be, what life might have been there in the past, is living there now, what it may give life to, what it needs to be healthy, how it connects us in kinship.  How can this piece of earth bring sight to us?

Creator God, I give thanks for earth, its soil and its microbes, its landscapes of hills and oceans, its life in all its forms. I appreciate the different ways I am coming to know you better in the communion of all of the diversity of life on earth.

Anne Lanyon is a community educator, past deputy director of the Columban Mission Institute and co-ordinator of its Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice which closed in late 2017.
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