Is there anything more wonderful than spring in our part of the world? If we had "eyes that see and ears that hear," we would be in the state of perpetual thanksgiving to God for all the beauty around us - the lush blooming of lilacs, the swelling buds of roses, the scent of mayday flowers that carries through whole neighbourhoods, trees robed in all shades of green.
Above all, there is the singing of the birds. In my little garden, a squirrel shares the feeder with blue jays, red robins and a variety of sparrows.
I often wake up when the birds begin their timid single songs, sleepy still but obedient to the call within them which tells them to rise. How easy it is to pray when you hear the birds. In their own way, they pray too.
Creation is full of the love of God. If people have hurt you, try to find God in his creation. You can find him in an ant carrying a leaf five times bigger than itself or a bee patiently flying from one flower to another, in the antics of a squirrel running along the fence. You just have to open those inner "eyes" that often do not see.
If we saw the world as God sees it, we would bend over a single grass blade and say, "Hello, little sister, how are you today?" We would hail the geese leading the goslings to the lake: "Dear me, what lovely children you have, please watch your step."
We would be the stewards of creation as we were meant to be in the beginning, before the prodigal sin threw us off the track.
As it is now, we either abuse nature or deify it.
On one hand, there is the terrible treatment of animals, especially in the food business. Animal shelters are filled to capacity. Wonderful city trees are often senselessly cut down. The oil industry seems to create wastelands in place of forests and meadows.
On the other hand, many of us dote on pets and plants and disregard fellow human beings in need. Potential children are often replaced with pets, much easier to rear. "What is the difference between a pet and a kid?" "A pet does not talk back and costs much, much less."
Even our language and new customs show how confused we are. We no longer take a dog from the shelter, we "adopt it." When my poor old cat died (and I loved her to bits and wept many a tear at the occasion), I received a formal memorial card from her vet. The card was in appropriate black and contained a funerary poem and a photo of my kitty and condolences of the staff. I was shocked.
Soon we will be adopting rose bushes and Siberian larches and in due time we will be giving our withered plants formal burials, complete with headstones. Good for business, bad for the soul.
This confusion happens because we have separated creation from the Creator.
In God, there is a brotherhood of all, men and creatures and plants, something St. Francis understood so well. Without God at the centre of everything, creatures and plants are just forms of biological life to treat as we humans, the dominant species, decide or wish. Depending on our needs, we make them either substitute humans or trash.
In effect, we rob the creation of its own God-given dignity and we even take away the hope for its future freedom from pain, suffering and corruption, promised by the Bible.
Today's excerpt from St. Paul's letter to the Romans says, "Creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God."
The more fully we become "children of God," the happier is the nature around us. Unless you are rooted in God, you cannot be a good steward of the earth.
What is the future of our little brothers and sisters in creation, those we love or loved and who daily brighten our days on earth?
St. Paul says there is a hope that, in the kingdom, where all crooked lines will become straight and where all tears will be dried, "creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." Somehow.