19 November 2009

The glory of the creature

It is a serious thing...to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities...that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations – these are mortal.... But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. (C.S. Lewis, They Asked for a Paper, London: Bles, 1962, p. 210)
That passage from C.S. Lewis has always struck me as a particularly powerful statement of the Christian vision of human nature. It is also one that resonates very strongly with the Franciscan tradition. In Franciscan terms, every person – no, every creature – is potentially a little brother or sister of Christ. Every aspect of creation contains within it traces that reveal it to be the handiwork of the Creator.

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