Wednesday 24th February 2021

Day 8 Loving God Through Creation

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind”, Jesus tells us. How do we even begin to do this? Most of the time we struggle to have any understanding of God, let alone getting around to actually loving God.
The Franciscan, St. Bonaventure, once wrote that we should begin our attempt to love God by working our way up to it. The best place to begin, he said, was to love the smallest and humblest part of God’s creation and to work our way to God from there. I believe he suggested beginning with a rock! But there is much sense in what Bonaventure says. God can only be known through God’s creation, and by beginning to learn to love and revere rocks, sunrises, sunsets, raindrops on a leaf, the flight of a bird, the colours of a butterfly, the grace of a cat, a majestic rainbow etc. – and then maybe widening our circle to including human beings in our many and varied forms. Then we begin to get somewhere. At this point, Bonaventure tells us, we are just a short step away from loving God. In fact, loving everything that God loves and has poured God-self into, we cannot help but be loving God. Russian writer, Dostoyevsky, wrote a similar thing in his novel “The Brothers Karamazov”. One of the characters in the novel said:

“Love all of God’s creation,
the whole and every grain of sand of it.
Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light.
Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.
If you love everything,
you will perceive the divine mystery in all things.”

Jesus told us the most important commandment was to love the Lord, our God. Jesus showed us that the way to do it was to embrace and love life. Many saints, such as St Francis of Assisi, St Bonaventure; the Celtic saints, such as St Cuthbert, and many more, taught us to begin by loving God’s creation and allowing that to be our teacher.
May we learn to love God, and grow in wonder of God, through every humble aspect of God’s world.

Matthew 22

He said to them:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the great and first commandment.
And a second is like it:
You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

Who is my neighbour?
Those who asked Jesus this question
thought that maybe it was members of our own race,
or culture, family, inner circle – people like us.
Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan
to break that narrow thinking.
Now we need to learn to widen our thinking further
to include the more-than-human world.
The environment in which we live,
the fox who wanders down our drive,
the magpie that shouts loudly from roof,
the ant, the snail, the bugs,
flowers, plants, weeds –
the whole created order is our
sister, brother, neighbour, friend.
To love our neighbour is to learn to see them
in a whole new light.

A Rabbit Noticed my Condition
by St John of the Cross (tr. Daniel Ladinsky)

I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field.
A rabbit noticed my condition and came near.
It often doesn’t take more than that to help at times.