If all aspects of creation and the created order bear the mark of the Creator then they reflect the divine love and intention of creation. This makes our attacks and destruction of nature an attack and destruction on God. It is another crucifixion. We destroy what Thomas Merton calls the ‘Godliness that is in all things around us, that proclaim the immense and unfailing love of their creator.’
In 1947 Carl Jung wrote that people did not know that ‘the only true servants of God are the animals’. The problem for people was rather how we might become human and so more like the animals get further in touch with our intuitions. The difficulty would be to get us to understand that ‘any lousy dog is much more pious than they [Methodists and Baptists] are.’
We are animals too and like all living beings Jung believed that life’s journey was a striving towards wholeness – ‘everything living dreams of individuation.’ Part of the damage that we have done is to destroy that inner connection with nature and other animals. This means Jung believed that through our treatment of creations we have lost our appreciation of the ‘numinosity’ of animals. ‘They have become apparently harmless’ – here I think Jung is referring to our demystifying the spirit of animals so that they merely are seen as meeting our needs perhaps as food or as entertainment or as an inconvenience that need to be exterminated.
‘instead we people the world with hooting, booming, clattering monsters that cause infinitely more damage to life and limb than bears and wolves ever did in the past. And where the natural dangers are lacking, man does not rest until he has immediately invented others for himself.’
Our difficult times reflect that we have lost our connection with nature, we have taken away the dignity of all animals. We cannot see the kinship of all creation. This is the model for how God intended and intends humanity to relate to the rest of creation. This is the Franciscan model – one of nature mysticism. This is where, ‘mystical experiences involve an appreciation of creation as God’s handiwork; nature manifests the divine.’ Surely we have been able to become more open to this during lockdown when the cars and aeroplanes stopped, the skies cleared and we could hear the birdsong. The ‘hooting, booming, clattering monsters’ were stilled and nature was briefly allowed to breathe again and have some space.