Those of us of a certain vintage will remember the iconic image of the photo taken by the Apollo space mission in 1972. It is considered one of the best-known photos of all time. It shows the beauty of the earth as a blue planet with oceans and landmasses, and clouds; the photo also shows the delicate nature of the earth and fills one with a sense of awe, at least it still does for me today.
One of the astronauts on that mission, Michael Collins, said of the earth, that it is “a glistening, inviting beacon, delicate blue and white, a tiny outpost suspended in the black infinity. Earth is to be treasured and nurtured, something precious that must endure.” Not as famously, he also said,
“I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of, let’s say 100,000 miles, their outlook would be fundamentally changed. The all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument suddenly silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified facade that would cry out for unified understanding…”
Today is Pride Sunday and the first Sunday of the Season of Creation; we are focusing on forests and pride. And what do the two have in common? Incarnation! All that has life on this planet, human beings included, are flesh and blood with bodies; we have being. We are all enfleshed beings and God saw that it was good.
One of the things that are so critical for this day and our reimagination of the earth’s health is that God saw that creation was good. Contrary to the idea of original sin, a doctrine with questionable roots in the Church, God created and saw that it was good. In fact, on the sixth day, God saw that it was very good, or as the Hebrew goes, HOW good it was… very can be translated as “how.”
The word “good” also implies beauty, joy as well as relationship. Creation is good in general, and the creation of human beings is also good; the creation of people with all our diversity is wondrous! We are made in the image and likeness of God. Unfortunately, some parts of the Western Church became caught up in the story of the Garden of Eden and an understanding that led to an alienation from the land. However, by saying that it is “very good” in the first chapter of Genesis, it was revealed that God’s intention for us is to be in relationship, to be loved and to love—the whole earth and all its inhabitants.
One of the other aspects of the creation story as told at the beginning of the Bible is that the earth itself becomes a co-creator with God. The earth creates life in so many diverse forms. Creation is an idea in God’s imagination that becomes reality in the cosmos and the cosmos itself participates in the creation of life—even now!
This idea of relationship is, in the words from Matthew’s Gospel, that wherever 2 or 3 are gathered, Jesus is there in their midst. Jesus spoke those words about reconciliation, but they are really about incarnation—they are about physical bodies. In the quest for deepening relationships and quality of living, in reconciliation, in the physical work of being together in community, Jesus is physically present. The light of love is present in the flesh. The blessing of hope lives in a physical body. And God saw that it was good. In fact, God saw everything and HOW good it was!
And moreover, what is implied in this goodness is our interconnectedness, not just as human beings, but as all of creation. Creation isn’t just about human beings; it is not just a human-centred thing. Creation is life for all being very good.
No question, as human beings we have a part to play in making sure that this goodness is lived out. We can step back from our self-centred ideas and ways of being in the world. We can step back and see the common good for all life. The earth isn’t to be commodified into goods and services; goodness is to be celebrated as a verb, as interrelationship, as the living common good, as beautying (if I can use this word), as loving.
Decommodifying our relationship with the earth requires us to look at how we are with each other. Labelling someone with whom we disagree is not helpful in the bigger discussion in living the common good. Willfully interpreting what another is saying as meaning something different or willfully demonizing another for having beliefs that we don’t share doesn’t promote the common good. This is all too common in today’s world and increasingly is what passes for political discussion. Holding each other to account, as Jesus advocated in the teaching from Matthew doesn’t have to be about blaming, demonizing or finding fault with the other.
And we do well to remember that being together seeking reconciliation means that Christ is present to us and with us in an incarnational way. Vitriolic language divides and separates. And we are at a time in our human existence when we need to be coming together, not finding ways to drive ourselves apart.
The origin of the word “vitriol” comes from Latin and originally meant glass. It developed through time to mean a corrosive liquid that looks glassy and from there to come to mean toxic, corrosive language that hurts and divides. We need to turn that hurtful language around and recover the idea of glass. We can see each other through the glass, or even better, as Paul said in his chapter in 1st Corinthians about love, “Now I see in a mirror—through glass—dimly; then, I will see face-to-face.” I wonder if the “then” in Paul’s letter could also mean love; we see each other clearly when we love!
Love invites us to open our eyes to see clearly that life is good. We see and celebrate our diverse creation and life for all. We see each person for who they are—deserving of respect, dignity, honesty and love.
Always, I seem to come back to love. And why not? Jesus embodied God’s love; we embody God’s love. And when we seek to live in deeper communion with one another and with all of creation, HOW we embody God’s love! And behold, it is very good!
Welcome to the Season of Creation; happy Pride Weekend!
 Go to the following website for quotes from Michael Collins: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3384666.Michael_Collins.