Season of Creation Reflection: Celia Deane-Drummond
Celebrating Creation: Going Where the Wild Things Are
‘Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
And spread its wings towards the south?
Does the eagle soar at your command
And build its nest on high?
It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night,
A rocky crag is its stronghold.’
Job 39: 26-28 (NIV)
These questions are those that God put to Job in a great hymn to creation at a time when Job had lost everything. The season of creation invites us all to take a step back from our frenetic or otherwise broken lives to contemplate the natural world in all its raw beauty and wildness. Gaining a greater sense of the life of all creatures helps us in turn to acknowledge our own creatureliness. It also opens our eyes to God’s living spirit at work in all that exists. While we may not see eagles too often, kites are now returning in numbers to the countryside in the United Kingdom. Other stories of recovery abound. Such small changes show that, given a chance, it is quite possible for ecological habitats to recover and renew. In the book of Job, God acknowledges creatures as valuable for their own sake, and not just as instruments for human usefulness. It is time for us to do the same, to feel humbled in the face of the amazing creaturely abundance that is still persistent in our midst, in spite of our misuse, if we choose to look. Such contemplation can provide a source of healing for our woundedness as we begin to recognise that all creation is held by God’s providence.
The global spread of COVID-19 is a reminder not just of the power embedded in this miniscule aspect of creation, but also the need to give due respect to those aspects of the natural world that cannot be fully controlled by human agency. We are not immortal in the face of these powers, yet our actions and lives are entangled with those of other creatures whether we recognise it or not.
The season of creation asks us in a special way not to forget the cry of the earth, bound up as it is in a common cry of those who are poor, who know, often far more clearly than those living in affluent societies, what it means to recognise, acknowledge and affirm our interdependence with all that exists.
Dr Celia Deane-Drummond is Director of the Laudato Si Research Institute Campion Hall Oxford, Visiting Professor in Theology and Science at Durham University and Adjunct Professor in Theology the University of Notre Dame. Her most recent published work is Theology and Evolutionary Anthropology: Dialogues in Wisdom, Humility and Grace, co-authored with Agustine Fuentes.
(Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)