For both men and women through the ages, it was in the wilderness that they discovered the soul. The civilized or domesticated world was of our making; wilderness was God's making - the first and natural cathedral.
But now we have created a society that idealizes civilization and runs away from wilderness. Many people are actually afraid of nature. Not only have we succeeded in taming the wilderness; we have ended up taming the soul.
Yet nature continues to speak to something deep within each of us. Have you ever been transfixed while looking into the eyes of an animal? When an animal looks into our eyes, the sensation is almost numinous. The world beyond the human is somehow communicating something essential to us. Carl Jung said, "When religion stops talking about animals it will be all downhill." Being in wilderness brings us back to our senses, back to our deep selves.
Richard Rohr, from On the Threshold of Transformation
We can easily take this kind of thinking too far - for one thing, we are ourselves made in the image of God, and our own making is a little bit of God's own creativity working through us - but Rohr has nailed something which is deeply true. The soul of an animal (Psalm 104:30; Ecclesiastes 3:18-21) is not like ours. There is something about it that feels almost as though it is fresh from the hand of God, clean and wholesome, full of a eagerness we have long forgotten. Even the donkeys recognised Jesus (Luke 19:29-38) and the foal who had never been ridden carried him quietly through the roaring crowds. Truly, as Francis saw, the animals are our sisters and brothers; we worship the one God, together.