Let Heaven and Nature Sing
This line from Joy to the World has always filled me with wonder. As a child I pictured choruses of animals in the forests singing and the thought has always made me smile. It evokes images of Rankin Bass stop motion figures from those much-loved Christmas specials of the 1970s. I still love them and watch them all every Christmas.
Animals figure prominently in children’s stories and Rankin Bass are no exception. From The Little Drummer Boy’s companions Joshua the camel, Samson the donkey and Baba the lamb to Topper the penguin in Santa Claus is Coming to Town, the animals are always central characters in Christmas stories.
But I digress, back to heaven and nature singing. In my current readings, which are all critical of western thought and the separation between humanity and that problematic word, nature, this line, though separating heaven and nature, includes humanity as nature; we, all of us, living beings on the planet Earth. This line also brings to mind Timothy Morton and his assertion that ‘religion cries aloud in a green voice’. There is much to say on notions of peace at this time of year and it is nice to reflect on nature and peace not merely as loaded problematic words, but to reflect with a spirit of respect and gratitude in Val Plumwood’s words of how lucky we are for all the critters we are fortunate to share this planet with. Although I often feel we don’t deserve their company, I am continually grateful for it.
As Rufus, my cat of unlimited agency, lies beside me, I am reminded of how much he adds to my life (and my medical bills through his biting) and how our becoming together is an ongoing and ever-evolving process. I have never once been injured by a shark yet my familiar, my cat, has inflicted numerous injuries on me. I don’t begrudge him his ability to be a cat – a predator with sharp teeth and claws. I don’t begrudge sharks their ability to be who they are either. I wish for all of us the ability to keep evolving into new and better ways to be together and to share space with each other in a spirit that doesn’t diminish any of us.
I wish a very Merry Christmas to everyone of us.