Treasure Creation: Week 6 | Day 4

The language we use to talk about something deeply shapes how we relate to that thing. Br. Luke Ditewig encourages us to consider the way our talk about creation might help us treasure creation, not as an object for our own use, but as a subject, created with dignity and love, just as we ourselves are.

Question: How do you really view creation – as “I-it” or as “I-Thou”?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Date with Creation

Transcript: As we treasure creation, remember that language shapes and indicates our perspective.  The 20th-century philosopher, Martin Buber, distinguished two types of relating, “I-it” and “I-Thou.”  I-it sees the other as objectified: I am superior, I use the other for my own use, for my need, and I can disregard it because it’s only for my purpose.  When I see the other as I-Thou, the other is equal, has dignity of its own right, has worth, belovedness that’s equal to me, and as I open myself up to it, I am changed by the other because I respect it.

If we see all of creation as I-it, as an object simply for our own use, then it’s a natural resource, just something to be used when I want to, and also to be disregarded if I don’t want to.  But if we see creation as I-Thou, then the water, the air, the soil, each has its own dignity, its own worth, indeed its own belovedness, simply as it is.  My use or preference is secondary.  I need to treat it with dignity and respect, simply as a creation of God.

So how do you treasure creation?  How do you relate to it?  As an object, something for your own use, or is it a brother or sister like St. Francis said?  Is it one who has been created with love as we ourselves are, as dignity and worth, and as something for us to cherish, to listen to, indeed to be changed by, as we relate to it.

Here is something to ponder today: How do I really view creation?  Is it as an I-it or as an I-Thou?

– Br. Luke Ditewig

Question: How do you really view creation – as “I-it” or as “I-Thou”?

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity


  1. Verlinda on April 6, 2017 at 01:22

    Creation is definitely an “I-thou” relationship for me; everywhere I look, I see God’s beauty and care surrounding me–from skies to flowers to rain water falling like it did here today; I hear it in the breeze, rain on the roof and windows; I smell it in the fragrance of the garden; I touch it when I stroke my cats, I taste it in the richness of fruits and vegetables grown in nature.

  2. Karen on April 5, 2017 at 09:16

    God created the world, nature and us. I thank God for what he has given us to enjoy in the country where we live every day. We try to take care of the animals that we see on our five acres.

  3. Rhode on April 5, 2017 at 08:53

    I give thanks I am able look outside without having to worry about bombs dropping. I turn on my faucet and give thanks for being able to take blessed clean water for granted. I breathe clean cold NE Spring air waiting for the resurrection of crocus and tulips. I view creation as the very mind of God working amazing design and artistry and melding it with function and purpose and calling it all good. Here in front and all around me is the broad living canvas of an imagination that knows no bounds. Here is the first artist creating and recreating on ongoing masterpiece writ large. Everyday, I rise up and give thanks for the beauty of dirt and worms and birds.

  4. Bryan Cook on April 5, 2017 at 08:46

    I have wandered between I-It and I-Thou and must refocus on the latter.
    There are times when I-Thou thinking brings enormous calm and peace. When I am fishing, I feel I am constantly at I-Thou with my buddy, the rocks, the water, their shoreline, the air, the sun and moon, the scent of the pines, the boat and, yes, even the fish. Although I am catching them, some for the pan, I respect them .
    I am deeply aligned with the Algonquin belief of Manitou
    (or Manitoo). The spiritual and fundamental life force which is omnipresent and manifests everywhere: inanimate, animate, encounter, event, action. All of these presences have a spirit force given to them by God, or Gitche Manitoo ( or Aasha Monetoo), the “great spirit” or supreme being. This is not idolatry as some Christian missionaries thought. I suspect that the same concept of I-Thou flows through many early tribal beliefs in part because of their depence on and closeness with Nature. And it is in Nature , in the Passion of Christ and in sharing our Lenten journey that I can renew my I-Thou.

  5. Phil Armstrong on April 5, 2017 at 08:31

    Please consider: I – God.

  6. Kristi Leighton on April 5, 2017 at 08:18

    I hate to say it but I think most Americans fall into the I-it category. They may think, well I don’t pollute the water or drive a huge car that emits toxic gases, so it’s not my problem. I have always been an I-thou. I am often teased by my husband because I will put the smallest wrappers into the recycling instead of just throwing them away. I have made progress with him by getting him to recycle, but I know it’s not a priority for him. If I lived alone i would use recycled products for EVERYTHING including toilet paper. I just feel that so many people think that because they don’t do anything to actively harm the environment directly that it’s not their problem. But its ALL our problem. We all share the miraculous creation of Earth that God created and we have to care for it. It frustrates me greatly when individuals in leadership positions do not set an I-thou example for us to follow. All I can do is spread the word myself and show others how I treasure creation as an I-thou.

  7. Sue on April 4, 2017 at 17:11

    The video has made me think- to my embarrassment I probably see creation as I it .i like the idea of considering St Francis, I remember a movie about him that I saw many years ago and I was very taken with it.
    I am going to practice thinking brother / sister today

  8. Ruth West on March 10, 2017 at 17:47

    We collect pocket change in water bottles at our church, just as I imagine many other communities do. It is for the drilling of water wells in the drought stricken areas of Africa. What a wonderful treasure, necessary for our very being, is clean water! I so thank God for putting it on the earth for all of us. All of God’s great creation becomes an I-thou for me. I believe the native Americans here in Oklahoma are perhaps more aware of this fact than most of us are. God is the great provider for our needs. Praise His name!

Leave a Comment