A few weeks I watched—again—one of my favourite Disney animated movies: Pocahontas. The thing I’ve always loved about the way the story is told in Disney’s version is how it connects with the life and sacredness of the cosmos. I particularly love the theme song Colors of the Wind (I’ll follow the American spelling here) in which these lines resonate so strongly with me:
You think you own whatever land you land on The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim But I know every rock and tree and creature Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
In the early years of my faith journey I believed what I was taught: that the cosmos was created by God for human consumption and that it would all be destroyed at the Second Coming of Jesus in the end times. Since only human beings had souls, creation did not need to be cared for and to believe differently was to have been seduced by ‘new age lies.’ At the time I had no idea how much depth, life, vibrancy, and richness I was losing by subscribing to these narrow and arrogant ideas. I thank God for the people who showed me how foolish and blind I was being!
I have written before about our conscious universe. It seems like almost every day I am learning about new ways that the creation is conscious. It turns out that the song is being proved absolutely right: every rock, tree and creature really does have a life, a spirit, and a name. There is now even a word to describe what we are finding out about the consciousness of the natural world: panpsychism.
Although there are opponents to this view, I find myself increasingly convinced that everything in the universe is conscious. That doesn’t mean everything is conscious in the same way that we are. But it does take seriously the evidence that points to communication, intelligence, and even purpose within plants, animals, and the universe.
Well this may be interesting, but what difference does it make to us? Why should we care about whether the Cosmos is conscious or not? Perhaps the best way I can answer those questions is to share another line from Colors of the Wind:
You can own the Earth and still All you’ll own is Earth until You can paint with all the colors of the wind
When we think of creation as nothing more than a storehouse for our needs we don’t just lose our connection with, and wonder at, the natural world. We lose something of our connection with Life itself. We are robbed of our sense of the sacredness of the earth and, by extension, of ourselves and our neighbours. Our spirituality becomes disconnected from the Divine Spirit, the Cosmic Consciousness, the Universal Process of Life that fills everything, including us. And when that happens, we end up with the kind of world we’ve got—one of division, little compassion for one another, disregard for the impact we have on our planet, and blindness to anything but how we can exploit people, plants, animals, and the Earth for our own benefit.
If we want a different world and a different life then we need to do things differently. And one significant shift we can make is to fall in love with our Cosmos. When we build a relationship with creation, it changes us. We feel our connection with the earth from which we come. We sense the life we share with the people and creatures around us. And our sense of being alive grows and expands in wonderful and awesome ways.
INCLUDING CREATION IN YOUR SPIRITUALITY
If we are to connect more deeply with creation we will need to be purposeful about it. It takes more than just looking at a sunrise and remarking on its beauty. Relationships involve getting to know the other, opening our hearts to them, and learning to enter their world.
This means that a relationship with creation requires us to get to know nature in some way. We could choose to learn the names of birds or trees or insects, or seek to understand how trees use mycelium to communicate, or be more attentive to the changes in the world as the seasons turn. It also means that we need to open our hearts to the natural world, allowing it to capture our imagination, ignite our passion, and fill us with wonder, inspiration, excitement, and joy. And finally, it means making time and space—even in tiny ways—to get into nature and experience being part of it rather than separate from it.
Over the next few weeks we’ll look, in more detail, at how we can do this. But for now, perhaps you’d like to share how you go about building a relationship with creation? How do you include nature in your spiritual practice? What would it mean for you to become more deeply connected with the Cosmos? Please share your ideas in the comments. And don’t forget to share this post with anyone who will find it meaningful.
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