On World Animal Day, I would like to share a quotation that I found in a book about animal rights from Andrew Linzey. It is a vision that was recorded by Julian of Norwich, a remarkable woman from the 14th century who lived as a hermit in England. The text is old English and has an appropriately mystic aura:
He showed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was round as a ball. I looked upon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made. I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to nought for little[ness]. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall [last], for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God.
In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it.
Andrew Linzey remarks: “Perhaps God’s ‘keeping’ or stewardship may sometimes appear absent because his deputies are so slow to work with his Spirit and get down to business.” This theme also surfaced during our church service last Sunday.
It was a special harvest festival service. I read in the liturgy that this festival was adopted by the Church of England to give the Lammas festival a place in the church. Lammas has very old roots and is still being celebrated by neopaganists. So this also warmed my interfaith heart.
The vicar read a letter from bishop Thabo from South-Africa. This is what he has to say about caring for the earth:
The root causes of environmental problems are greed and apathy, which are both spiritual problems. From colonial times through to the current era of neo-liberal policies, our business models are based on maximizing profit at the cost of workers and the earth.
Thinking about the animals in intensive farming and the life that is suffocated by our waste, this observation of the bishop also struck me:
The Bible calls us to be stewards of the Earth but I think we have left it too late. God is now calling us to become healers of the Earth.
Juliana of Norwich saw how the love of God sustains the world. We need that love to heal the earth. A prayer from Pope Francis:
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.