How often do we stop and think about our true relationship to this earth and all that it contains? We know that we cannot live without oxygen and without the nourishment provided to us by the mineral (physical), plant (etheric), and animal (astral) kingdoms.
For this reason, we should experience deep gratitude for each breath we take and each meal we eat. This is the purpose behind saying a prayerful grace before a meal.
There is a greater story behind all this. Everything that supports our earthly life originates from us. In this sense, we can align ourselves with the Gods, those super-earthly beings who hold everything in balance.
“But all that I see out there — the annual herbs and flowers, the trees that take firm hold into the Earth — once upon a time, I, as man, have borne it all within me.” Rudolf Steiner*
Essentially, we breathed out nature making it possible for us to breath on the earth.
Plants gift us the oxygen we need, and they process the poisonous remnants of our breath by absorbing carbon dioxide.
Animals, on the other hand, had to be discarded and left behind. Only in this way could mankind prepare to receive into himself the I-being, the greatest gift of the Universe. As we integrate this fourth element, the true human spirit, made available to us through the Christ-ening of Jesus, we become creators, God-beings.
“The plant world, so it taught him, is yours; the Earth has only received it from you. The animal world you have overcome. You have had to leave it behind. You must look back on the animals with the greatest possible compassion, they have had to remain behind on the road, in order that you might become Man.” Rudolf Steiner *
*Mysteries of the East, West, and of Ephesus