Creator God: ‘Their inscape is their sanctity’
Taking a wider view of creation involves moving away from the reductive cause-and-effect discussion often found in religious circles, and also accepting the possibility that all created beings are of equal value – in other words human beings are not necessarily, as is often stated, ‘the Crown of God’s creation’, then creation can be seen as a window through which shines the light of God.
Thomas Merton expressed it like this ‘God creates things by seeing them in His own Logos.’ Thus Merton sees an intrinsic relationship between creation as an epiphany of the divine word and the incarnation as the culmination of this revelatory self-disclosure of God, the perfect manifestation of Creator in creation. He draws on the traditions of Eastern Christianity to show that the apprehension and appreciation of the presence of God in God’s creatures is an authentic dimension of contemplative awareness – ‘everything that is, is holy.’ This means that each created being reflects the Being in holiness of God in its own unique way; Pat O’Connell describes it as the infinity of God which is giving rise to an innumerable variety of ways of mirroring the divine goodness and love. He then quotes Merton:
‘Each particular being, in its individuality, its concrete nature and entity, with all its own characteristics and its private qualities and its own inviolable identity, gives glory to God by being precisely what He wants it to be here and now … Their inscape is their sanctity. It is the imprint of His wisdom and His reality in them.’
There’s a lovely description in one of the last talks that Merton gave to the novices where he is describing how we can see God everywhere and in everything if we can unclutter the care and worries from our vision. He gives the humorous example of building up some great event such as teaching something to the rabbits… And how it becomes this huge thing in his mind – which is ultimately an illusion, it’s nothing, because what really matters is leaving the rabbits to be what they are – rabbits…
‘And if you can see that they are rabbits you suddenly see that they are transparent, and that the rabbitness of God is shining through, in all these darn rabbits.’
Clearly this applies to people and to all other aspects of creation where you see God within each creature and created thing and where God is present and living in the world.