When I was a young boy, I wanted to become a priest. Two of my uncles and one of my cousins were priests. They used to visit us and I always looked up to them. They encouraged me to follow their path. They were respected at home and in the community. My mother used to refer to them as “men of God.” So, in my young mind, becoming priest was considered a good thing, a godly thing, an honorable thing.
Besides, I didn’t want to join my father’s profession — farming. I didn’t liket getting my hands dirty by working the fields, taking care of cows and chickens. So that was the context of my vocation to priesthood, and I had no clue about the implications of life long celibacy or any of the other complex aspects of catholic priesthood. I was just 15 years old.
A friend of mine told me that to join the seminary I had to write a letter to the Archbishop expressing my desire to become a priest. He told me about a unique phrase to include in the letter which went like this: “Your excellency, “For the glory god and salvation of souls, I like to become a priest.”
So the two fold purpose of becoming a priest was to glorify God and to save souls. Now God was understood as a Supernatural Being who resides in a far away heaven. The best way to glorify that God is to praise, worship and obey Him. I have to live a holy life to please God, save my soul and go to heaven after I die. As a priest, I also have to save the souls of the people God assigned to my care in my parish.
There was very little attention paid to the current life on earth. The focus was on going to heaven after death. The earth was viewed as a valley of tears with suffering and pain and tribulations. Earthly things like food and sex were considered to be necessary evils, not nice realities of life. In Christian thinking, there were three things that were considered to be enemies of spiritual life: World, Satan, and the human body. The world was the source of temptations, the body was the cause of temptations and Satan was the instigator.
Spiritual life was framed as a daily struggle involving these three realities.
Life on earth was thought of as something to be endured rather than celebrated. Life on earth was not an end in itself, but only a preparation for the next life, which is eternal life in heaven. The role of the Church is to prepare people for an evacuation plan from this evil world, and priests and nuns were the field workers to help with that evacuation into heaven.
This is the gist of what I believed and lived for the first 40 years of mylife. Then I woke up.
Slowly I began to realize that there is something wrong with this picture. As I began to study the life and teachings of Jesus, and started reading spiritual masters, my consciousness shifted from focusing on heaven after death to life on earth now. Instead of thinking about going to heaven later, I began thinking about being in heaven now.
I developed new understanding and appreciation for the earth. If the earth was such a bad place, why would Jesus choose to be born here. Incarnation means, taking flesh…he was born on this planet as a human.
Jesus came on earth not to take us to heaven later, but to show us how to create heaven on earth now.
That one sentence turned my life upside down. That one sentence prompted me look at planet earth differently. That one sentence changed the way I looked at other people, the way I processed my life experiences. That one sentence forced me to reorder my priorities.
I hear many people say, “I hope this is not all there is to life, this miserable existence on earth. I hope there is a better place.”
I think that instead of longing for a happy life in a better place later, we should enjoy a happy life in this place called earth, now.
I rarely think about going to heaven after death, but always think of ways to make life on earth a heavenly one. In fact, when Jesus said that “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” he was inviting us to create that kingdom right here. When he taught his disciples to pray, “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” he was referring to experiencing heaven-on-earth.
So if heaven can be created on earth, I need to get to know the earth better. I need to have a new relationship with the earth. The more I thought about it, I became fascinated by the beauty, brilliance mystery and miracle of this planet called earth.
Most days, most people don’t think about the earth. We are so busy and preoccupied that we fail to see the glory all around us. The earth proclaims the glory of God, says the psalmist. But I have heard people ask: “What is so glorious about this miserable place?”
Let us take a closer look at our home planet. We usually experience it as stationary, because that is what our five senses tell us. But if we could stop for a moment and reflect, we will realize that we are moving, rather spinning, and yet staying put…that is a huge mystery worthy of adoration itself.
The earth spins around its axis at the speed of 1,000 miles an hour at the equator. It takes 24 hours to spin around once. The spinning makes our days and nights. But as we spin, we are also on another circle journey as we orbit round the sun. Traveling at the speed of 66,600 miles an hour, this second journey takes 365 days to complete. In that annual pilgrimage around the sun, we travel 595 million miles — with no oil change or tire rotation. Think about that.
Your body is an outgrowth of this earth. Your body is made of the dust of the earth. All the elements like hydrogen, nitrogen, iron, calcium that are on earth are also in you. Just as 70 percent of the earth is water, our bodies are also 70 percent water.
We should erase from our minds the mistaken notion that we are living on the earth and replace it with the notion that we are living with the earth.
So start seeing earth as a living organism,
Now we have no problem seeing living things on earth. The plants are alive, the oceans are alive because there is marine life in it. But we rarely see the planet itself as alive. We see the earth as an object, mostly as dead matter. The cement beneath our feet and the concrete buildings don’t help us to see earth as a living reality. So the tendency is to use the earth as a means to an end. That is why there is unconscious environmental exploitation. That is why we engage in mindless fracking, drilling and mining without any concern for the ecological impact on planet earth.
When you see the earth as a living organism and experience your life as living with the earth, rather than merely on the earth, suddenly you feel a relationship and a partnership with the earth. Every minute you are allowed to be on this planet, you feel a sense of wonder and awe. Once I gained that awareness, I could not even throw a gum wrapper on the earth. The destiny of the earth and our destiny are the same. That is why apostle Paul reminds us in today’s reading: “That the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay, and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.’ (Rom 8.21)
So the glorious freedom of the children of god and the glory of creation are intertwined.
So, this earth of which we are so much part of, this earth that Jesus made his home, this earth which proclaims the glory of god, this earth which god so loved and sent his son onto, has a lot to teach us.
Where does the earth gets it authority to teach us anything? The authority comes from the fact that earth is our mother. Just like our mothers taught us a few things when we were children, mother earth has a few lessons for us.
So, start looking at the earth as the primary bible.
Think about this. The bible which we consider to be an authority in matters of faith, was written just 3000 years ago. Are we to believe that humanity before that had no guiding principles? So the earth is in that sense, our primary teacher. That is why Thomas Aquinas said:
Divine revelation comes in two volumes: Nature and Scripture
Psalm 19 :1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Listen to this again: “Day after day the creation pour forth speech.
The earth is speaking to us. Are we listening?
Night after night they display knowledge. Are we learning?
I have listened.
I heave learned.
I have learned ten lessons Mother earth has taught me.
It took me a while to learn them.
I was in my forties when I learned them.
But ever since I learned those lessons, my life has changed dramatically for the better.
For me, Life is good. God is great. All is well. Abundance and grace is all around. I see everything in God and God in everything. It is an amazing way to live, even in the midst of challenges and struggles. If you learn those ten lessons, you can create heaven on earth. Those lessons are explained in detail in my book:
Cosmic Kindergarten: Earthly Lessons for a Heavenly Life
We live in a Cosmic Kindergarten. We are on a moving planet suspended in cosmic void, yet held tenderly in the “hands” of an awesome God. We should be like kindergarten kids on this planet, always with our hands up, asking questions with a curiosity and urgency to learn.
This glorious planet which God has given us as our home has an ethos and a pattern to it. Nothing on this earth is arbitrary. There are some guiding principles that govern the earth. Everything on earth, has a plan and a pattern that has been designed, delineated and choreograph by the creator. If we can learn from the earth, adapt to her plan and go with the flow of the earth, we will be much happier and peaceful people.
That is how how we live the meaning of the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
Be the first to post a message!