Indigenous Animist communities across the globe believe that everything within creation is interconnected. There is the frequently quoted Native American Lakota Sioux prayer, ‘Mitakuye Oyasin’, which means ‘all my relatives,’ or ‘we are all related’. There is the New Zealand Maori concept of ‘Whakapapa’ (usually translated ‘genealogy’) suggesting a flat foundation with layer upon layer laid upon it. It visualizes individuals linked to their kinship group, but ultimately uniting the whole creation together as a single cosmic family. The same idea is expressed within the biblical text in reoccurring phrases like:
The central biblical concept of shalom affirms an identical conclusion. Usually translated ‘peace’ its essential meaning is ‘wholeness’, ‘harmony’ and ‘integration’ between everything. First and foremost shalom is about unified life-giving ‘relationships: with God, within ourselves, with the rest of humanity and with the whole of wild nature. Here is total integration. There can be no true shalom without each relationship being in place and at peace.
The prophet Hosea expresses this beautifully:
‘On that day I will answer, says the Lord,
I will answer the skies and they shall answer the earth;
and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine and the oil,
and they shall answer, “God sows” 8
These words have been described as an ‘antiphonal love song’ celebrating the perfect union and true accord of heaven and earth, spirit and matter. They intertwine the divine, human, animal and seemingly inert within reciprocal relationships. Calling and speaking to one another they form a harmonious cascade awash with fertility.
This exploration strongly affirms, ‘everything is alive’, alongside the sacredness and connectedness of everything within a Jesus-understanding of spirituality. It also perfectly sets the scene for developing our Christian Animist understanding of wild nature as person and persons.
1 E.g. 2Kg 19:15; Acts 4:24
2 E.g. Eph 1:22; Col 1:16
3 Ps 96:1; Rev 5:6
4 Ps 48:2; 72:19
5 Ps 24:1; 1Cor 10:26
6 Eph 3:15; see AT Lincoln, ‘Ephesians: Word Biblical Commentary’, Word Books; 203
7 cf Eccl 6:10; Ps 147:4; Isa 40:26
8 Hos 2:21-22