Loving Creation: Christian Spirituality, Earth-centered and Just
by Kathleen Fischer
New York, NY: Paulist Press, 2009
Reviewed by Bobbie Bonk
“Bless algae and bacteria, alpine wildflowers and pesky mosquitoes” (181). Mosquitoes? Kathleen Fischer’s closing litany reminds us to be grateful for all creatures, for they are the gift of the Creator. Loving Creation is a book of hope, challenging the reader to view the earth through new eyes and responsible action so that what may seem to be insignificant can be highly praised and protected—even a pesky mosquito.
Throughout the text, Fischer invites openness to Sophia, Holy Wisdom, who “shows creatures their beauty and possibilities” (5). Fischer weaves a tapestry enabling the reader to see “The Divine Face in All Faces” (44) and includes insights from the Hebrew Scriptures and Christian Scriptures, holy people, contemporary scientists, and mystical poets. Every chapter develops her goal: “to show that Christian spirituality—its sacramental vision, biblical traditions of inheritance and promise, ancient prayer practices, saints and prophets, teachings on desire and asceticism—offers indispensable resources for converting our hearts and minds while sustaining our hope” (ix). Our hearts must be converted if we are to live as the image of God in a world of consumerism, ecological crisis, injustice, and war.
Fischer points to Jesus as one who was so aware of creation that his teachings were filled with stories of birds and seeds, sheep and fish. His proclamation of the beatitudes was meant to turn everyday thinking upside down. Fischer believes that if we take the example of Jesus’ life seriously, it is a call to refocus and reevaluate our own lives, achieved only through prayer.
Every chapter in Loving Creation ends with a method to pray for the universe and its inhabitants. Meeting God leads to accountability because “spiritual experience does not end in ecstasy and rapture but moves its recipients to vocation and mission. It not only brings joy and strength; it asks something of us” (169–170). With stories of interdependence, Fischer demonstrates that essential, mutual respect and self-sacrificing love are central to the universe. This insight necessitates a second look at how we use the world’s resources.
The book is both gentle and demanding. A reader might never be the same after comprehending its implications. Too much is at stake when nature groans with such poignancy. Loving Creation could lead a spiritual directee to a newfound awareness of wonder and reality. The book’s easy reading tempts a continuous moving forward with the text and yet, it seems to whisper, linger a while and contemplate the glory of God. Loving Creation serves to awaken a sense of gratitude for the deep listening that occurs with the Divine during a spiritual director-directee relationship.
Bobbie Bonk is a pastoral associate at a Roman Catholic church in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. She facilitates retreats, offers spiritual direction, and volunteers with inmates at the Larimer County Detention Center. Participating in workshops for adult survivors of childhood abuse led by Mary’s Hope, she enhanced her spiritual direction training from The Center for Spirituality at Work in Denver, Colorado.