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.
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”?
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.