Sunflowers and Grasshoppers

By any honest measure planet Earth is in trouble, perhaps even in peril. Many think the fate of humanity is precarious. The Earth can’t sustain our unbridled greed and growth, our misguided philosophy of individualism. At the root of our common problem is a rampant spirit of disconnectedness. The survival of our fragile planet, our home, depends upon our ability to rediscover the connectedness of all life. Every particle of nature is attached to the rest of creation. Even the least thing effects everything. When one part of creation is hurting, all of creation is hurting.

We are abusing creation, plundering its resources; the earth is crying, dying, because of our failure to see the solidarity of all life. Our spirit of individualism separates us from each other and all of creation. We have become the center of the universe. It is all about “me.” And that self-centered attitude gave us our current economic disaster.

St. Francis of Assisi was not self-centered. He was God-centered, which means he was also creation-centered, seeing all life as his brother or sister, seeing all life as connected by virtue of the fact that God created everything, permeates everything, is the Father and Mother of all, of the sunflower and the grasshopper. In the 40th Chapter of the Book of Isaiah we read: “Who measured the waters in the hallow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in balance?” The 6th century BC Jewish prophet Isaiah saw God as a supreme landscape artist, carefully designing a garden of delights to support, sustain and entertain all of life. By God’s divine hand a mountain rose here and a lake formed there. With dirt below and sky above our home sprung from nothing and contained everything.

But it was not enough for us. We wanted more. Much more. We wanted to rule…ourselves, each other, all of creation. We wanted to be God. In the scope of the massive and magnificent creation the poet-prophet Isaiah saw us mighty, all-powerful humans as mere grasshoppers. Funny, yet insightful. If only we had acted like grasshoppers, as little slivers of life, instead of acting like Lords, dominating all of life. St. Francis saw himself with humble eyes, no better than a lowly worm. He also saw himself with exalted eyes as a son of God and hence connected to and equal with all of creation, a delicately interwoven tapestry of wonder and awe, lovingly stitched together by the Master Weaver.

If we do not recapture our original connectedness, do not return to the garden of paradise we are doomed. We are slowly killing the poor and the weak. We are slowly destroying planet earth. We need to recapture a sense of awe and wonder, to look at the night sky in all its vastness and beauty and say with the poet who penned Psalm 8: “I see your handiwork in the heavens: the moon and stars you set in place. What is humankind that you remember them, the human race that you care for them?” The psalmist knew that God entrusted the beauty and bounty of creation to us, to sustain us. God laid all of creation at our feet, gave us dominion over it. But instead of safeguarding this priceless treasure we choose to dominate and abuse it.

St. Francis of Assisi understood that the earth belongs to God and that God let us be temporarily in charge of creation. We betrayed that trust.

Lord have mercy.

St. Francis would say: It is not too late. God is a God of hope, a God of mercy. Turn back. Love life, all of life. Give praise and thanksgiving to the Author and Sustainer of life – God our Father and Mother – by embracing and protecting all of life…even the lives of our enemies. St. Francis knew we are one, and he wished we would sing in unison a song of praise.


2 Responses to “Sunflowers and Grasshoppers”

  1. 1 Sherada Marie Collins June 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

    So beautifully and clearly stated. Thank you.

  2. 2 GOvideoHAWAII June 16, 2012 at 12:33 am

    You wrote: “Even the least thing effects everything.”
    So much wisdom in one tiny sentence!

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