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Reflection on Planetary Hospitality

Ask the animals, and they shall teach you; The birds of the air, and they shall instruct you. Speak to the earth and it shall teach you". Job 12:7-8

By Veronica Green
As some of the most exquisitely precise, and delicately fragile combination of events unfolded
in the Universe, the Planet Earth was preparing to become ablaze with the most extraordinary Hospitality. The waters of the Planet were ensuring a home for all forms of marine life, the sun's warmth was exuding energy to every living thing, the oxygen and winds beckoned the air-borne, and four-legged animals found shelter and food in the cycles of the seasons.

Over fifteen billion years planetary conditions slowly and graciously prepared to welcome humans, until finally, two million years ago, all was ready and we, the latest comers breathed the air, drank the water, beheld the wonders and enjoyed all the blessings of the Planet Earth. Cosmonaut Edgar Mitchell described our home when seen from space, as "...a sparkling blue and white jewel.... laced with slowly swirling veils of a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery."

We became the privileged ones whose significant and special task in life remains the same
now, as then, to consciously reflect on the Universe asking where it came from, who it is and what it is made of. As if to celebrate our coming, a mountain party was prepared. The invitation read:
"On the mountain, Yahweh Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines." (Is.25:6) None of us would go hungry for there would be sheep and oxen, corn and oil, clear water all set in a place of awesome beauty.

A home had been prepared, the banquet was laid and we were welcomed. Planetary hospitality awaited our response. The hospitality was expansive. It offered to all created life forms a home, a place of belonging, a landscape, a seascape, a desert region or snow-scape. And there, all in nature interacted and established a balance and harmony sustainable to all.

John O'Donohue the Irish poet, author, lecturer, reminds us of the extraordinary significance of landscape, of the effects of WHERENESS on our human identity. Without Whereness he says there could be neither person, language, nor thought and the human journey would be inconceivable. Landscape makes everything possible.

Karl Rahner mystic and theologian like his brother priest Teilhard de Chardin was very aware of this relational view of the world. A view that saw all in creation as interdependent, where the human interacted with the environment physically, emotionally and spiritually, and without which the creativity of the human would stagnate and perish.
This we know The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth. This we know All things are connected Whatever befalls the earth befalls sons and daughters of the earth. We did not weave the web of life We are merely a strand in it Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves

(Chief Seattle 1854)
Some years back at a Christmas homily, Ted Kennedy carried this line of inspired thinking right into the heart of the often insipid telling of the Christmas story. He spoke of how the new-born already belonged by birth in the whole pre-existing stream of creation. The manger, the PLACE where he was laid, was mentioned three times by Luke. The manger, so often interpreted as a symbol of alienation, was rather a place of warm welcome and hospitality to the family. It was " the centre of the natural universe and God was right there " at home, in the midst of a welcoming creation.

On the night of Jesus' birth, the Planet Earth, already sacred as God'screation, already recognised as "holy ground" where Moses was told to take off his shoes, became doubly sacred as "...the cradle of God". The story burgeoned into an amazing cosmic event. There were the animals, the singing, the shepherds, the angels and night skies and the star that the astrologers followed. This symbolized the Hospitality of creation in its fullness, characterized by unconditional welcome.

Long gone is the damaging notion that the task of the 'good' Christian is to struggle against, and overcome, the world and the flesh. The blessings of Creation and the Incarnation must surely remind and encourage us to respect and care for the Planet earth, the place WHERE we all live
out our pilgrimage. And God's choice of embracing flesh to be a part of the great story of humanity, must also remind us that it is only though our bodiliness with its senses, imagination, intellect and feelings, that we can interact with this wonderful world. The world and the flesh are sacred.
  It was with profound sadness that we heard of the deathof Veronica Green. A Sister of Mercy in Australia she had been at this year the forefront in promoting a Creation Centred Spirituality. She wrote this piece in May 1998.

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