"Reverence for All Life" Rev. Christine 4/18/2021 (text)
“Reverence for All Life” by Rev. Dr. Christine 4/18/2021
My talk today is on “Reverence for All Life.” It was inspired by Earth Day which is celebrated each year on April 22, and this year it is this coming Thursday. There are resources available at www.earthday.org.
First a little background: Earth Day was founded by Gaylord Nelson in 1970, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Gaylord organized a “teach-in” on college campuses; it was planned to be held between Spring Break and final exams, and thus April 22 became the annual date. The purpose was to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of issues concerning the health of our air, water and soil. Today Earth Day is the largest secular observance day in the world, celebrated by more than 1 billion people every year.
Earth Day began for ecology, yet today so much is fear based, which I don’t prescribe to. As I see it every problem has a solution, in which fear and anger isn’t a resolve. Although sometimes anger can motivate when the energy is used for something good, but most often coming from the wrong perspective. Thus missing the mark in solutions verses when we come from prayer and meditation for our inspiration and guidance. It’s also about having reverence and gratitude for our mother earth.
The definition of reverence is to have a deep respect for someone or something; a feeling or attitude of profound respect, usually reserved for the sacred or divine; devoted veneration. Then the word respect: to admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements; or in due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. It appears that reverence, respecting, is what people of this world are learning about today; to respect each other regardless of our differences, or forms of life; all of life, all of nature. Our entire planet is to be understood as a living being, our mother earth; rather than just a resource to be utilized. This is a big lesson, and a very necessary one for our continuing evolution.
The Bible often used the saying “to fear God”, but really what they meant was to love and respect God. A form of reverence. A key to our future as a species is to have reverence for all life. What does that mean? The aborigines of Australia, would pick aging or weak animals left behind, and then communicate with the animals asking for their permission to kill. Then we have the American Indians that would recognize the spirit within the animal, and then only killed what was necessary and wasting nothing of that animal.
In the Jewish tradition, they eat only kosher food. Being kosher means to kill and prepare in a sacred way with prayer and kindness. In Christian tradition we have grace or a prayer of thankfulness prior to eating the meal set before us. In East Indian tradition, especially the Holy people, eat only vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains; and they pray while preparing and eating their meals.
All those practices are a form of reverence. Reverence can go even further by seeing the sacredness - the holiness of all life. That all life is God in expression, regardless of their appearance or actions. Our Mother earth is alive from the depths of its core, to the mountain tops, the water we drink, to the air we breath. All plants, every living creature from the tiniest insect to humans, we are all one, one in Spirit.
Jesus the Christ said in Matt. 22:37-39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” When we can see and know God in all life, recognizing our Oneness of life, we then can truly love our self and our neighbor. And, we can interpret neighbor here to be all people and all life.
To know we are one in and of planet earth. Just as we are one with God Omnipresent. Every part of mother earth sustains life according to its environment. While there is life at the center of our planet, there is life at every level, and what we are most familiar with is on the earth’s surface and atmosphere - which is a very small portion of the whole.
Now to see God in all things both invisible and visible; in the air we breath, our body, the food we eat and water we drink, our surroundings and belongings. Then beyond this earth to our entire universe, and to all dimensions and the heavens. We embrace it all with love and reverence. Take a few moments before taking that first morsel of food to recognize its true divine source, its beauty, be thankful for all that participated to bring it to you for your nourishment and enjoyment. Throughout the day take a few moments in gratitude; there is always something to have gratitude about - even if its just taking that breath.
We live differently when we open our minds and hearts to the sacredness in all things; when we are mindful of the Life behind or beyond what we perceive through the human senses and perceptions. Each and every individual is part of the tapestry of Life; each a part of the whole; each has a purpose and role to play.
British organic chemist and creation scientist, A.E. Wilder Smith, stated that: “The tapestry of life begins with a single thread. A single fertilized egg; a zygote is the size of a pinhead, contains chemical instructions that would fill more than 500,000 printed pages!
The genetic information contained in this ‘encyclopedia’ determines every potential physical aspect of the developing human from height to hair color. In time the fertilized egg divides into the 75 trillion cells that make up the human body, including 12 million brain cells, with a capacity to form over 120 trillion connections.”
The patterns or styles relating to height and hair color may differ, but at the very core of our being we are designed equally; the “architect stamp” is the same. In Spirit we are One - One in God.
We have so many opportunities each day for the practice of reverence. In other words, make reverence a habit. As we sit in meditation... we have a wonderful opportunity to reverently go within; and as we touch that place of deep Silence where the soul meets its God, in our profound experience, we have become like a lighted candle, lighting and uplifting those around us.
Then when we eat, get dressed, when driving to work, shopping, or in a traffic jam, and throughout the day; to do it in peace, in gratitude, with love and respectfully. Take a moment to recognize the Divine in every person we’re in contact with by having compassion, or silently greet the Divine within them. Even if we don’t like their actions or how we feel about them; we see underneath all this outer stuff because they are still part of the One Divine Being.
Technology today in one way connects us instantly around the world, and yet can be very isolating sitting at a computer, smart phone or TV. Many children of today being so busy playing online games and online schooling, they hardly have connection with nature or other children. Its easy to forget our connection to one another and all life. Take that walk, sit in a park, join a group or class of interest; even if by Zoom. Care for a pet, it can be so rewarding when done in love. Its up to each of us, everyone, to make that reverence connection happen.
Robert Browning wrote: “There is an inmost center in us all, where truth abides in fullness; and to know, rather consists in opening out a way where the imprisoned splendor may escape, than in effecting entry for a light supposed to be without.”
Rainer Maria Rilke says much the same thing: “And the world that is looked at so deeply wants to be looked at in love... The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”
We are the evidence of the existence of our Creator, who saw all that was made and called it Good; and it still is Good. We identify with this absolute Goodness when we experience it in the stillness.
The following are lyrics written in 1864, by Folliot Pierpoint, titled “For the Beauty of the Earth.” Folliot at age 29, returned to his birth home in Bath England. Late one spring, the natural beauty of the area inspired him to write this hymn. As I read these words to take them within your heart and mind.
“For the beauty of the earth; For the beauty of the skies, For the love which from our birth over and around us lies: Lord of all, to thee we raise this our grateful hymn of praise.
For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night, Hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light: Lord of all, to thee we raise this our grateful hymn of praise.
For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child, friends of earth, and friends above, pleasures pure and undefiled, Lord of all, to thee we raise this our grateful hymn of praise.
For each perfect gift of thine to our race so freely given, Graces human and divine, Flowers of earth and buds of heaven: Lord of all, to thee we raise this our grateful hymn of praise.”
I have an exercise for us in which we shall use our imagination. Get comfortable. Now imagine our mother earth before you, as seen from far above as the astronauts did. We shall now open our hearts, allowing our love energy to radiate forth this healing, restorative love energy into our entire planet..
It is clearing, raising its frequency from the depths of its core, all the way to its surface and sky...
Now embrace Mother earth in love. Let your arms embrace her, appreciating all the life she represents and supports, and say “I love you, I respect you, I thank you.”
Now see your mother earth in all her radiant beauty full of life, abundant life, and all in perfect balance... And, so it is. I Thank you for your participation.
When we can truly connect with all life in reverence we shall be so in tune with nature and all life, that we will be able to commune, and support each other for the best life. As in Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” Let us be the child.