Meandering Along the River’s Edge
~by Virginia Rhys Anson, OFS
October 5, 2014: We All Are Related
A Lakota cry proclaims, Mitakuye Oyasin! We are all related!
We are all creations of a benevolent God. Creatures interwoven upon our earth, within our universe—suns, planets, animals, plants, humans. All entities in nature—the colossal and the minuscule–are created by a great, mysterious God with a tender, fatherly love. We are all related.
The elm, scarred by the nibbles of foraging deer. The lumber company felling acres of rainforest trees. The blue jay chirping its assumed supremacy over its winged cousins. The smooth-faced boulder embedded in the side of a hill. The poacher removing tusks from a freshly slain elephant. The wolf pack howling in chorus beneath Sister Moon. All are formed in the palm of our loving God. We are all His creatures. We are all related.
Yet who am I in this relationship? Surely I cannot be related. I am, after all, a human being. I am not like other animals and surely not like the pebble that lies in the riverbed. I am far too intelligent to be one of them. I am far too superior.
Who am I but a creature that exists for only a fraction of the years that the mammoth redwood sees, that has only a fraction of the eyesight of the sparrow hawk, that possesses a minute fraction of the agility of the squirrel?
Does it seem farfetched to say that human beings are related to the earthworm? Worms are such small, insignificant animals, only good for fishing and fertilizing gardens. Such is the dilemma of human thought, which is oft-times too self-absorbed to recognize that no creature is insignificant. Each is given a role to fulfill within its particular ecosystem. Each was created by God. As humbling as it is, yes, I am related by virtue of sharing the same Creator-God to the earthworm.
Just as truly, am I related to the blue jay and the squirrel, to the creatures of the land and the sea, to the plants and trees and rocks. We are all molded and sculpted by the same Creator—God, Our Almighty Father. I am sister to Brother Sun, to Sister Elk, to Sister Oak because the Master Sculptor created us all. We are all related. We are all part of the web of life, and the lives of humans are interconnected with those of animals and plants. The human species exists commingled with all of creation.
Still, who am I in the relationship that is nature? I am but a creature with the intelligence to nurture or harm Earth. What I do to nature has a ripple effect throughout creation. My cutting down one tree may create merely a nano-ripple, but it is a ripple just the same. Deforestation, on the other hand, becomes a mega-ripple, destroying ecosystems and species, thus endangering the creation that depends on forests—from the awarra tree, to the macaw, to insects, and on down throughout the ecological chain. We are all connected to each entity in nature. Humans create ripples throughout nature. Some ripples are nurturing—planting trees for eagles to nest, recycling so as to spare nature’s reserves, clearing aquatic debris for fishes’ safe passage. Too many, quite tragically, are not so life affirming.
Human beings are privileged among God’s creatures. We are divinely charged with overseeing God’s masterpiece. Our Creator has placed us above our flora and fauna brothers and sisters. But, we are not above with the intent that we will dominate and use nature for our selfish whims. Above, instead, as stewards and caretakers honored with the responsibility of using our great discretion to protect nature in its entirety. Our plant and animal brothers and sisters, although quite capable of surviving in their own realms, depend on humans to allow them to survive as God intended, and depend on us to protect and heal their ecosystems. With this responsibility comes the power to make choices—right or wrong, holistic or harmful.
God gifted His human creatures with powers and intelligence far beyond those granted to plants and other animals. We are the only creatures on earth that can elect to care for nature or to destroy it. And if we destroy it, we destroy ourselves. We are all related.
Our Loving Father fashioned Earth to provide for its creatures’ natural needs—water, food, shelter. In that sense, earth is a true mother. Nature, left to its divinely endowed design, provides the exact concoctions that sustain the dolphin and the cactus and the amoeba and, yes, even humans.
The Lakota tell us that Earth is a living being with a spirit…just as human mothers give life and the milk of their breast to sustain their children, so Earth gives to humans life the vitamins, water, and minerals that are need in order to live.
God created all things on Earth and in the universe in harmonious synchronization. Each tree, each meerkat, each planet, each quark—each piece of nature–yearns to exist in harmony within the great Creator’s design, for each can do not the contrary. Just as water seeks equilibrium, so does all of nature seek balance. Humanity is, sadly, the only species that uses its intelligence, desire, and ability to disrupt this natural orchestra, to exist outside of nature’s balance.
Nature lives as if it senses what humans do not—that we are all very truly a family created by God, Our Father. Humans are not separate beings living side-by-side with nature. We are a part of nature. We are one with it. We are all related through God’s intricate intertwining creative process. We are related human to animal, plant to human, river to human, human to pebble. We are related human to human. It is ludicrous, given this divinely ordained relatedness, that there should be animosity between peoples and that there should be so little respect for and care given to the Earth—our life-support system.
“Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
Humanity, do you hear me?
Mitakuye Oyasin! We are all related!
Virginia Anson grew up in the shadows of Sandia Crest in New Mexico. Family camping trips may have sparked her passion for nature. She holds an A.S. in Electronics Technology, a B.A. in Writing, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and a certificate in Wildlife/Forestry Conservation. Her book, Mother Earth’s Caretakers, targets middle school youngsters and is published as an e-book for Kindle. Virginia is a Vietnam Era veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and her volunteer endeavors see her as a lector, Eucharistic minister, and sacristan in her parish and as a habitat steward for the National Wildlife Federation. She especially cherishes her life in the Secular Franciscan Order, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.
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