Father Richard is a Franciscan, which already gives him high marks in my books, and he's also a man who has figured out a lot of really important things when it comes to faith. He shares his understanding in books, presentations and the daily emails that land in my inbox.
Actually, I think a lot of us have a sense of those important realizations in our heart-of-hearts, but he has a knack for putting them into words. From my email on Monday, January 19th:
We must know that creation is our first and final cathedral. Nature is the one song of praise that never stops singing, as many of the Psalms say. If you are drawn to "kneel" in this cathedral, you can always talk to a Mystery that is so much larger than yourself. It takes no theology classes whatsoever, no proofs, or arguments. Aweism is the one true religion. All the other native and historical religions merely build upon this primal awe that bows before everything.
Acknowledging the intrinsic value and beauty of creation, elements, plants and animals, is a major paradigm shift for most Western and cultural Christians. In fact, we have often dismissed it as animism or paganism. We limited God's love and salvation to our own human species, and even then we did not have enough love left to cover all of humanity! God ended up looking quite miserly and inept, to be honest.
My other pet peeve is that the words of our liturgy rarely remember creation in prayer at all. Sure, there's talk about blessing the "fruit of the vine and the work of our hands," but what about blessing all the other stuff God made? And all the other people who believe differently than my church? Jesus had an intimate relationship with nature, always drawing it into his teaching, and he certainly didn't shun people who believed differently than he did -- remember his praise for the centurion? (Matt. 8:5)
So I have become a rebel (as though you hadn't guessed by my refusal to call God by only the traditional masculine pronouns). I change the words. I don't just pray that God accepts our prayers "for our good and the good of all his holy church," I pray for the good of all creation. Not just for my church and its good, but for everyone and everything.
And I expect that God, who is anything but miserly and inept, is just fine with that.
(If you're interested in the writings and teachings of Fr. Richard Rohr, information and daily email signups can be found by Clicking Here. The email sign up is on the upper right side of the webpage.)