In this introduction to the final week of the series, Br. David Vryhof reflects on the fifth Mark of Love, which invites us to participate in God’s work of safeguarding the creation. This mark calls us, first, to appreciate the beauty of the earth and then to commit ourselves to protecting it. This is critical work in our moment.
Transcript: I’m sure that all of you have had the experience of being captivated at some point or another by the beauty of the natural world in which we live. We have our breath taken away repeatedly by brilliant sunsets, or by the view from a mountain peak, or the babbling of a brook, or the sounds of birds. There is so much in nature that engenders in us a spirit of gratitude and of praise to God. We have been marvelously made ourselves, and we live in a creation that is full of marvels and wonders.
But this creation has also been spoiled and damaged by human greed, by human misuse, and abuse of created things, of living beings of all sorts. And part of God’s mission in the world is to restore the creation to its original beauty and design.
So part of our mission as well, part of the Marks of Mission, the Marks of Love that characterize our lives as believers, is this mark, the Fifth Mark, “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and to sustain and renew the life of the earth.” This is God’s work and we are invited to participate in this work of renewal, and of sustaining, of encouraging the life of all living beings and all created things.
It was St. Francis of Assisi who taught us that we are one with creation. He called the sun his brother and he called the moon his sister. He saw dignity and beauty in all created things. He wondered at God’s presence in creation. And when we have that kind of relationship with creation, a relationship of respect and of honoring, we’re less likely to abuse the creation, to assume that we can use it for whatever we choose, to destroy forests, and to kill species of animals because we are pursuing our own ends.
And so this mark calls us to, first of all, appreciate the beauty of the world, to give thanks for it. And second of all, to commit ourselves to its preservation, to protecting its integrity, and to nurturing its life and beauty. It calls us to oppose actions that are destructive to the world, to its peoples, to its environments, to its creatures, to its habitats. We’re called to challenge and expose these ways of abuse and to find instead ways to restore the earth. And this is critical work in our day and age, as we know. Life is threatened on this planet and we have much to do here.
But let us enter into this Fifth Mark of Mission with the spirit of humility, of receptivity, of listening. How is it that we are meant to live on this earth and how is it that we are to be in relationship with the creation and all created beings? Let’s reflect on those things this week and challenge ourselves to live in a way that protects the integrity of creation and that nurtures and renews the life of the earth.
– Br. David Vryhof
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.