All life – including the variety we see in nature – is a parable of the future community of the kingdom of God. Just as the air surrounds us, or as a blowing wind engulfs us, we need to be immersed in the blowing Spirit, who unites and renews everything. And just as water washes and cleanses us every day, so in the symbol of baptism we witness to our purification from everything that is of death. This “burial” in water, which is once and for all, signifies a complete break from the status quo; it is a vow of mortal enmity toward the evil in us and around us. Similarly, the lifting out of the water proclaims resurrection in vivid imagery and in unforgettable clarity.
The resurrection we see in nature is just the same: after the dying of autumn and winter comes the blossoming of spring and the fruit-bearing of summer; after seedtime comes harvest. The whole course of human history, from humankind’s origins to its fulfillment at the end of time, is symbolized by the cycle of nature.
We love the body because it is a consecrated dwelling place of the Spirit. We love the soil because God’s spirit spoke and created the earth, and because he called it out of its uncultivated natural state so that it might be cultivated by the communal work of human beings. We love physical work – the work of muscle and hand – and we love the craftsman’s art, in which the spirit guides the hand. In the way spirit and hand work together and through each other, we see the mystery of community.
We love the activity of mind and spirit, too: the richness of all the creative arts and the exploration of the intellectual and spiritual interrelationships in history and in humanity’s destiny of peace. Whatever our work, we must recognize and do the will of God in it.
God – the creative Spirit – has formed nature, and he has entrusted the earth to us, his sons and daughters, as an inheritance but also as a task: our garden must become his garden, and our work must further his kingdom.