Wednesday, January 9, 2013


It looks like the ideas are starting to come together. Across the years from the early fifth century to the mid nineteenth century a way of looking at Creation echoes over and over. From the pen of the early fifth century   theologian and teacher Pelagius comes this fragment written to a friend. 

Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the fish in the river and sea: God’s spirit dwells within them.

There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent….When God pronounced that His creation was good it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature; it was that His breath had brought every creature to life. Look too at the great trees of the forest; look at the wildflowers and the grass in the fields; look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well. The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what  makes them beautiful; and if we look with God’s eyes nothing on the earth is ugly.

 More than a thousand years later, and with a little less poetry is this fragment from William Penn, the Quaker. 

If we better studied and understood God’s creation, this would do a great deal to caution and direct us in our use of it. For how could we find the impudence to abuse the world if we were seeing the great Creator stare us in the face through each and every part of it? — William Penn (1644-1718

And from the mid nineteenth century from Howard Brinton. Again a Quaker and teacher. His battered collection of essays on the basics of Quaker belief are finally beginning to make sense. 

As I write this I am writing in a house which will soon be destroyed by a thru-way enabling automobiles and trucks to save a few minutes in going from one place to another. I hope they will make good use of the time they will save. Because in building this road a great deal of life will be destroyed. The living fields and woods will be shrouded in a dead shroud of concrete, destroying all life under it and much that is near it. This is only one example of how death is replacing life in the western world. When this cold, dead shroud of concrete is extended further, life will decrease and death will increase, and when it goes far enough life will cease. We are living in a world where death is gradually supplanting life. And the final end of this process is predictable. Howard H Brinton. 

Many of the early Irish monks chose what they called the White Martyrdom. At a time when family and place meant safety and protection they turned their backs on family ties and land where they had a place and set out. First through northern England and then into what became Germany and further. They finally fetched up on the heel of the Italian boot. It's no coincidence that Quaker writings echo earlier Celtic beliefs. The Quakers came out of Yorkshire in the northern English path the Irish took. 

No comments: