creation stories

Notice that the bible begins with creation stories. Perhaps this is because it is true that “The fear of god is the beginning of wisdom” However, in this sense ‘Fear’ is not the same as ‘Dread’. Fear is Awe. It is true that Wonder always precedes faith. Chinese scriptures speak it another way “Just realize where you came from, this is the essence of wisdom”. Or as Rabbi Herschel puts it in his own yearning for reconnections between people “Don’t tell me what you believe, what your dogmas are, tell me what you praise”

 

As human beings, we seem to need to return again and again to our beginnings and to a sense of wonder whenever we are feeling despair or disconnection. We as a group come back each week to worship in part to refresh and renew that sense of reverence, of praise, of awe because it eases our despair and returns us to a sense of holiness about the nature of life.  We return to affirm that goodness and blessedness is primordial and preexistent to evil. Returning to our origins in goodness is redemptive, it heals us…of our own sin, of our culture’s, of our enemies’ against us. We can start over, returned to the state of virgin vulnerability and childlike wonder, even to the unborn self.

 

The most natural question whenever persons reflect upon or try to rationalize their experience of life, is this: How did this all get started? What was the beginning of it all? We want to know how the world began, where we came from, what is the meaning of life? Contemplation concerning origins is a gift that comes from the curiosity of the mind, without it there would be no exploration of life, no seeking answers, and no growth.

 

Today, even as our sciences continue to seek to understand our beginnings … biochemical, anthropological… where we came from, how we came to be, where we are going, they also seek to reach farther and farther out into the universe for proof that our lives are not trivial and meaningless. It is true that today, as our understanding of the universe expands, so does our revived capacity for awe.. and so does our collective soul. The unique stretching that is going on today is a powerful thing.

 

For our ancestors perhaps, it may have been easier to reach a place of mystery, as so much less was explained away as fact (contrast with truth) by science. However, though science can explain to some extent the hows of life, it cannot explain the whys of life. Perhaps that is why many scientists eventually become mystics…in following their hunger for understanding farther into the vast complexities of the macrocosm or the intricacies of the microcosm they come to a place of being mystified again by the wonder and the genius and the inexplicability, or by the fascinating ways in which all flesh is elementally the same and yet manifested differently, the unique ways in which matter contains and expresses energy. As Einstein discovered, matter and energy are interchangeable…likewise there may be no true distinction between flesh and spirit.

 

Returning to a place of both humility and awe (wow) leads to a place of trust in something greater than the self. But how can knowing that I am small, not the center of the universe, help me when I am already feeling lost or out of control? Perhaps it comes by knowing and trusting that there is something in control much larger than myself, something vast, something powerful and capable of a goodness and love that I cannot seem to muster in this moment of fear or despair or loneliness or pain, hoping that I do not have to contain it all within the smallness of my being. Or perhaps it comes by recognizing that we are a vital part of something important that requires our participation.

 

Creation is not a thing it is a verb. It is a happening still occurring, constantly being fashioned. Thus, we stand within creation’s dawn every single moment, for each moment all things are somehow changed, or brand new, yet made of the same stuff as Eden. This is an ancient wisdom that is revealed in today’s science. Early in this century, science believed that all flesh was basically static. But modern physics have proven that matter is constantly recycling and evolving, even as it appears to grow old and die, and that the universe is indeed expanding. Nothing is lost, newness becomes. Therefore, each bit of flesh (human, earth or universal) has a long story to tell, even as it may seem to have only recently appeared. It is full of the scents of time and space. For instance, when we look at a star, we are seeing something that in fact is not constant, but the light that it emitted before it died.

 

Likewise every creature is a word of God and a book about God, the word of God made flesh, and has a story to tell about God. Spirit has chosen to become flesh and to dwell within us. Flesh is not restricted to Jesus, or to the human, or to earth, but pervades the entire cosmos. All are dwelling places of the divine, spirit is at home in flesh and loves to dwell therein. For reasons we perhaps cannot understand flesh is where spirit has set up her tent to do her work, made her temple in which to grow Love. Spirit breathes and becomes through flesh, and flesh receives its existence from Spirit. Every breath we breathe is miracle. To breathe is to breathe God’s breath.

 

“We are not just some accidental anomaly, the microscopic caprice of a tiny particle whirling in the endless depth of the universe. Instead we are mysteriously connected to it, mirrored in it, revelatory of it. This awareness endows us with the capacity for self-transcendence. Through my awareness of my connectedness to the whole of the universe, the awareness of the elemental sameness that I share with all and with the Holy, I can both restore my dignity and honor that which is in the (O)other.” (paraphrase)

 

There is a wonderfully paradoxical twist to choosing to see my life as sacred. In recovering the sacredness of my own flesh, in realizing the miracle that it is that I exist, I must also choose to see the same in the other. When I at last hear the words, “Rejoice oh highly favored daughter”, you have been chosen, made, created by God, as words not spoken once in time but over and again, and also directly to me, that I have been selected to embody and give form to Spirit, then I automatically begin to look for it in the other, wondering what it is that God is up to within and through the miracle of flesh that is them. By choosing to recognize the sacred embodied and born within all of flesh, be it human flesh or earth flesh or universal flesh, then I also come to understand that to do harm to any aspect of creation is to do harm to some aspect of God

 What if we each contain a fragment, a spark as the Quakers say, of the divine, is it not then that we begin to understand that together we can do more good than alone, build a fire? What if God has broken and poured out Godself in order to expand Love? This knowing unites us all in wonderful communion, and interconnectedness of being and of purpose. However, it is always the rupture of communion that causes pain. It is perhaps then God’s pain and our own that we heal when we seek unity. When we respect and value the gift of the sacred in one another’s differences, as well as within ourselves, as if all is indeed God (or the wounded Christ) harmony happens, as does grace.  

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