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A Joyful Path, Year Three – Week 10: Every Creature Is Full Of God — Story: Wolf And Sheep

For Classroom or Home School

Week 10: Autumn
Lesson 8: Each Creature is a Book Full of God

I learn about God from every creature.

Getting to the Heart of the Lesson

Meister Eckhart, a 12th-century mystic proclaimed, “Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things. Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God. If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature – even a caterpillar – I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature.”

The late Thomas Berry, catholic priest and geologist, sounded a lot like Eckhart when he urged us forward with these words, “The greatest of human discoveries in the future will be the discovery of human intimacy with all those other modes of being that live with us on this planet… and with which we exchange the very substance of life.” (1)

There is a creation story shared by the original people’s throughout Turtle Island (North America) Great Lakes regions (2) that tells of a Skywoman falling in a column of light from a hole in the sky, darkness all around her as the animals of the Earth watched. The geese caught her in the fall and held her atop the ocean water. The animals held a council. A great turtle offered her his back upon which to rest. The animals understood she needed a land to live on, so a small muskrat dove deep into the ocean and returned with a fist of mud. Skywoman spread the mud over the turtle’s back and danced her thanks to the animals. As Skywoman danced, the land grew and grew until the whole earth was made.

This is a beautiful creation story, showing the interconnectedness of creation. Even more important is what followed. Skywoman had brought gifts to offer as well. She brought seeds and fruits of all kinds of plants which she carefully tended until the Earth was covered with green and abundance. “It is said that the Creator gathered together the four sacred elements and breathed life into them to give form the Original Man, named Nanabozho, before setting him upon Turtle Island,” a world already fully formed with plants and animals, winds and water. The world was in balance and all lived in harmony. The Creator gave Nanabozho the “Original Instructions” to walk in such a way “that each step is a greeting to Mother Earth,” (3) and to follow the paths made by all those whose home this already was. He was told to learn the names of all the beings, to watch how they lived and to learn what gifts they carried, to learn from all the creatures how to find food, how to clean the food, how to build and make tools, how to sit quietly and ask permission to take, how to live in right relationship with the land and creatures and that he must protect life on earth. (4)

These quotes and stories provide the message of this week’s lesson. Every creature (animate and inanimate) is full of God. We are full of God. How does the world feel different when we claim this to be true? How do our attitudes or actions change when we relate to all creatures as holy friends, reliable teachers, and, as Eckhart said, “books about God”? Every being has something to teach us.

Teacher Reflection / Activity

Some reading and a 10-20 min exercise (more if you have time and wish to take it) so you are able to experience the teachings offered through this week’s lesson.

Psalm 8:6 in Hebrew Scriptures often uses the word “dominion” to describe the relationship God has given humans in our stewardship of Earth. We have been short-sighted when this text or others are interpreted to mean other creatures are “lesser than” human beings. All creatures possess value and potency. Mosquitoes, bacteria or poison oak possess a great deal of potency, regardless of size or appearance. Medicinal herbs and plants heal sicknesses and save lives. Psalm 8:6 has never meant our species has God’s blessing to use our power over other forms of life. Instead, we are called to take full responsibility for the power we have been given, to use the privilege we hold as humans, to care for all Creation and to develop intimacy with all beings.

The importance of this lesson is to begin to relate to all beings – human and more-than-human, animate and inanimate – as our relatives and teachers. Whether this is a new practice for you, or a perspective you have held for some time, the following exercises will help you continue to expand and explore your intimacy with life in all forms:

Option 1 — Recall a book or a movie where trees, animals, or mountains have been given personalities, power and can speak for themselves. What have you appreciated in these stories? What have these non-humans shown you about you or your role in creation? Journal about this if you wish.

Option 2 — Spend time with your pets, relating to them on their level. Quiet some of your large, human energy to receive the wisdom only they can impart as canine, feline, etc. What wisdom do they offer you? Maybe they are teaching you about rest, adoration, mindfulness, and unconditional love.

How are you aware of the divinity present in each being? How does this awareness change the way you engage in daily activities? How can you invite greater intimacy with the life all around you?

How do you relate to the water coming from your showerhead, the spider crawling across your ceiling, the bird chirping beyond the window, the piece of gravel caught in your sandal? The tomato you pick from the vine? As you develop awareness of all your relatives, do you see, feel or hear God around you in new ways?

Read through the lesson before your time with the children. Decide which Activity Exploration will work best for your class (There are usually two options; choose one). Just below the heading, “Children’s Lesson and Story” you will find the preparations checklist for this lesson so you can collect any needed materials or make arrangements to support your selected activity.

Sacred Text Quotes

Sikhism. Guru Granth Sahib

There is but one all pervading Spirit, and it is called the truth. It exists in all creation, and it has no fear. It does not hate and it is timeless, universal and self-existent! You will come to know it through the grace of the Guru.

Christian Scriptures. Ephesians 4:6 (NRSV)

There is one God and Father (Mother) of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). Upanishad 4.2-4

Thou art the fire
Thou art sun
Thou art the air
Thou art the moon
Thou art the starry firmament
Thou art Brahman Supreme;
Thou art the waters – Thou, the Creator of all! Thou art woman, thou art man,

Thou art youth, thou art the maiden,
Thou art the old man tottering with his staff; Thou faces everywhere.
Thou art the dark butterfly,
Thou art the green parrot with red eyes,
Thou art the thunder cloud, the seasons, the seas. Without beginning art Thou,
beyond time and space.
Thou art He from whom sprang
the three worlds.

Wisdom Quote

The chimpanzee study … taught us perhaps more than anything else to be a little humble; that we are, indeed, unique primates, we humans, but we’re simply not as different from the rest of the animal kingdom as we used to think. ― Jane Goodall

Be sure to click here to download the Teaching Introduction and Instructions.

Review & Commentary