It now seems apparent that the existence and development of the Universe is shaped by the interaction of three dynamics: communion, diversity and interiority.
Everything we know about is in some kind of relationship with everything else. Every thing is in “conversation” with every other thing. Energy is shared through an exchange from one being to another: from galaxy to star, from star to planet, from rock to soil, from plant to mammal, from human to music.
Communion bears both the joy of engagement and the loss of sacrifice. All the available energy that surrounds us today is the gift of the first cosmic interactions; tonight’s dinner is the fire of the original flaring forth in edible form.
It is not accidental that we celebrate communion in many of our religious traditions. Whenever you share a meal you take in food, which is the sacrifice of other beings. The act of Jesus that Thursday night was quite clear: when you eat, he said, remember that your life is the gift of another’s sacrifice.
Diversity, on the other hand, says that absolutely everything in the Universe is different from every other thing. How beautiful and interesting this Universe is! Our tiny solar system out here in a spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy demonstrates that diversity; size, color, chemical make-up, history—no two planets are exactly alike.
Think for a moment how infinite difference is fostered by the act of communion. Human reproduction is an excellent example: two different and unique human beings join in the act of deep bodily communion, and the result is a third, entirely different, unique human being.
But if the beings of creation had no “interior”, no subjectivity, the dance of diversity and communion would be random motions at best; at worst, nothing would have any meaning at all.
We humans have a very clear concept of being conscious, self-reflective, intelligent, conversant, symbolic creatures. We tend to think that consciousness is the hallmark of an inner life, and to a degree that is so. What we seem to gloss over, if we believe it all, is that all beings have an interior aspect. When sunlight interacts with a stone, the stone does not bounce the sunlight off of itself; it takes it in, alters it, and sends something of itself back out to the eyes of Earth. In that way, it reveals something of its self.
Just because the “consciousness” of a rock is not the consciousness of a human does not mean that the rock has no subjectivity. Perhaps this is more readily understood when thinking of our animal companions. Few dog lovers would deny that their canine companions have some kind of interior life. But because it is not human interiority, we may dismiss it as less important, less meaningful, less significant, less worthy of respect, less entitled to its food, its habitat, its relationships.
When we believe that we are the supreme and solitary holders of an interior aspect, we are free to see the “others” around us as expendable, unimportant, utilitarian, worthless. It is but a short step from there to believing we can “own” the animals, water, air — even the genetic patterns of life. And once we believe we own any part of creation, we are set free to use it up, squander it, destroy it, and deny to others the beauty and wonder of that creation.
If, however, we reawaken ourselves to the awareness that we are all unique, connected, self-relevant beings sharing a sacred Universe on a planet of wondrous development, we cease to stand apart and begin to live as if everything matters. The way we treat each other, eat, share, worship, work, play are all reflections of how we view the importance and relationship of all beings.
Jesus drew his metaphors from the Earth and the lives of the many beings around him. Consider how flowers are beautiful, he said, just because they are—they don’t have to do anything to earn or to keep that beauty, they just follow the instructions of their ancestors, arise in a season and soon give way to the future. Know that every star is important, because each is unique and exists only for a time. The sands, the fig trees, the rivers, the creatures of the sea, the moon and the sun, rock badgers and Pharisees … everything has value.
Every last bit of creation is holy — the ongoing, primary revelation of Creative Mystery.