I was talking with my children the other day about "creatures." They know the term, as it is typically used today, in the sense of "monsters" or "aliens." I told my children that they themselves were creatures. They said they were not. However, I told them that we are creatures, because we are created by God, and that only God is not a creature.
Later I was thinking about how important this idea is.
When we feel self-important, we need to remember that we are created beings, and that the Creator is the all-important One.
When we are too busy for prayer (one of my more pernicious sins recently), we need to remember that the One who created us loves us and wants to hear from us.
When we think that creation is ours for the pillaging, we need to remember that we have a bond with the rest of creation as creatures ourselves. We are not separate from creation. While we are most beloved of creation, we are related to the rest of creation through our mutual Creator. St. Francis reminds us of this in the prayer, "The Canticle of the Sun" which was apparently originally called "The Canticle of the Creatures":
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, honor and blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong;
no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
We praise You, Lord, for all Your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun,
who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
of You Most High, he bears your likeness.
We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
We praise You, Lord, for Brothers Wind and Air,
fair and stormy, all weather's moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.
We praise You, Lord, for Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.
We praise You, Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night.
He is beautiful, playful, robust, and strong.
We praise You, Lord, for Sister Earth,
who sustains us with her fruits, colored flowers, and herbs.
We praise You, Lord, for those who pardon,
for love of You bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
by You Most High, they will be crowned.
We praise You, Lord, for Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in their sins!
Blessed are those that She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.
We praise and bless You, Lord, and give You thanks,
and serve You in all humility.
Being a creature is about relationship. It is about knowing one's place as both lowly and exalted at the same time. It is about knowing that all of creation speaks of the Creator, and that no matter where we turn we can see the effects of God. I am reminded of the hymn, "All Things Bright and Beautiful":
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Let's bring back the use of the word "creature." It helps us to remember who we are, and who God is.