Faces on Faith: Held in sacred enfoldment
Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker, professor of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Divinity School, was the featured speaker at the Shared Scholar event held at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. Underwritten and supported by five local church congregations, Tucker leaned heavily on the selected writings of Dr. Thomas Berry, a cultural historian, as she led us on a quest to see the cosmos as sacred.
Berry urges us to recognize the universe as “the supreme manifestation of the sacred.” He suggests that what is needed is a “new spiritual, even mystical, communion with Earth, which is fundamental to establishing a cosmos, an intelligible manner of understanding the universe.” He continues: “We must remember that it is not only the human world that is held securely in this sacred enfoldment, but the entire planet.”
Tucker reminded us that many Biblical traditions see God’s hand in nature. Job exclaims: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? When the morning stars sang together or when I shut up the sea with doors, or made the cloud the garment thereof.” The book of Psalms is full of God’s luminous creation. Christian Science author Mary Baker Eddy’s writings tell us: “The Divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal.”
Many months preceding the Shared Scholar talk, Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran, professor emeritus of environmental studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, spearheaded a local movement titled “TOGETHER: A Way Forward,” which emphasized our connectivity to sacred earth, and our spiritual responsibility to embrace and care for our planet. The same local Sanibel congregations – Bat Yam, Congregational UCC, Christian Science Church, St. Michael’s All Angels and Chapel by the Sea, as well as the Sanibel Unitarian Universalists – embraced Corcoran’s passion to engage in important environmental practices at each of the churches involved. A culminating activity of the group will happen on Earth Day, April 22, at the Causeway Celebration of Earth and the ceremonial signing of “Care for Creation: A Call for Reflection and Action.”
Berry reminds us: “The sacred is that which evokes the depths of wonder. To go to the sea at night and stand along the shore, we listen to the urgent roll of the waves reaching ever higher until they reach their limits, then return to an inward peace until the moon calls again for their presence on these shores.” Surely all of us so blessed to live on Sanibel, are indeed, “held in sacred enfoldment.”
June Sieber is affiliated with the Sanibel Christian Science Church.