The Great Chain of Being was a synthesis that held together for us one coherent world. It was a “cosmic egg” of meaning, a vision of a Creator and a multitude of creatures that excluded nothing (See Colossians 1:15-20) from holiness and goodness.
As the medieval Christians predicted, once the chain was broken, and one link not honoured, the whole vision collapsed. Either we acknowledge that God is in all things or we have lost the basis for seeing God in anything. When we could not honour God in the earth, waters, plants, and animals, we soon could not see or honour the divine image in ourselves or in other humans…
St. Bonaventure (1221– 1274) took Francis’ intuitive genius and spelled it out into an entire philosophy.
God is “within all things but not enclosed; outside all things but not excluded; above all things but not aloof; below all things, but not debased.” Bonaventure was the first to speak of God as one “whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
Therefore “the origin, magnitude, multitude, beauty, fullness, activity and order of all created things” are the very “footprints” and “fingerprints” (vestigia) of God, according to this Doctor of the Church. Now that is quite a lovely and a very safe universe to live in. Welcome home!
Richard Rohr, Hope Against Darkness (p.136)
This is the ground of the kind of praying I keep writing about here. It is this identification, this seeing of “our oneness of nature” with all humanity, all creation, that makes a prayer like the Jesus Prayer possible as intercession. When we pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner…” we are not asking for mercy merely for ourselves, or confessing merely our own narrow little sins. We pray as creatures, one with all creation—broken, fallen, accused, condemned—and redeemed! (Romans 8.18-25)