Ecology Reflections from Fr. John Surette, SJ

A reflection by Fr. John Surette, SJ

In modern times Jesuit scientist and mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, wrote the following “I am a child of Earth before being a child of God. I can only grasp the Divine through the Cosmic.” Cultural historian and mystic Thomas Berry, my mentor of many years, taught “Only if the human imagination is activated by the flight of the great soaring birds in the heavens, by the blossoming flowers of Earth, by the sight of the sea, by the lightning and thunder of the great storms, only then will deep inner experiences be evoked within the human soul.”

As members of God’s Universe, we find ourselves existing within a great emergence, a 13.7-billion-year evolutionary story. This Great Story is unfinished and there is much more to come as the Universe continues to unfold into its future. Our personal stories are also unfinished, and there is much more to come as our lives unfold into their futures. So, as we allow this Great Story to wash up on the shores of our consciousness and intertwine with our own stories. We nurture our cosmological sensitivity. As we succeed in doing this, we grow in becoming mystics.

The Divine is at work in every aspect of the great emergence. It acts from within the depths of the Universe itself. We humans are growing in our awareness of the entire phenomenal order being infused with and vitalize by this Energy or Spirit. This is indeed good news. No longer need we separate the sacred from the secular and the supernatural from the natural. Our religious imaginations can now, along with Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, envision a Universe “charged with the grandeur of God.” As we move into this new awareness, we are discovering how blessed we are to be living our lives in such an enchanted place as Earth. As we experience this enchantment, we are becoming mystics.

Some of the difficulty we have in nurturing a spirituality in which the Divine presence is at work in the Universe is because our image of God is often a reality that is “above” and “outside” the Universe. The truth is that Our God is an “insider” God. There has never been as time and will never be a time when the Divine is not embedded in and intimately involved within the Universe, its Earth and its humans…within Reality. Divinity resides in and around us. We need to consciously embed ourselves in the dynamic of the great emergence. As we grow in our ability to find the Divine in all things, we grow in becoming mystics.

Some 13.7 billion years thus far, so why not another 13.7 billion or more? Its Story is unfinished and there is much more to come. As integral members of the Universe our lives are also unfinished and there is much more to come as our lives unfold into their futures. As we allow this Cosmic Story to wash up on the shores of our consciousness and intertwine with our personal stories we grow as mystics.

The evolving Universe can be counted on. It can be trusted. It has existed 13.7 billion years or more thus far, why not another 13.7? Its Story is unfinished and there is much more to come. As integral members of the Universe our lives are also unfinished and there is much more to come as our lives unfold into their futures. As we allow this Cosmic Story to wash up on the shores of our consciousness and intertwine with our personal stories we grow as mystics.

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