New Tools and New Questions

questionsI found a new tool this morning. Well, it’s not new. It’s just something that I had never paid much attention to. It’s the Voice Memo app on my iPhone. With this I can quickly note thoughts that maybe I can write about on this blog. I’m always thinking of things. But, usually when the time comes to sit and commit, the thoughts blow away like vapor in the wind.

Also, I’d like to enlist your help. What things are you concerned about that we may be able to discuss here? Maybe a pet peeve? Perhaps a thought about life and spirituality? Like my home page states, this is a “safe place for releasing hurts, disappointments and frustrations.” Or, anything else that’s important to us.

This is a small community right now. And, I moderate it pretty closely in order to keep it safe. So, please share!

Remember, tho…I’m an equal opportunity offender. I may take your ideas and twist them just a bit and toss them back to you. I do like to stir things up and make people think.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Frustrated with Where This Road has Taken Me

frustratedLast week I wrote in my journal for the first time in nearly 4 months. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone in 3 years. I don’t know why I stayed away so long. I enjoy putting words to paper. It gives me a safe place to share my thoughts. Somewhere that I can vent my anger and frustration and communicate with God and my soul.

I also noticed that I have found my frustration with my job, again. For at least the last half-year I’ve experienced a lot of ambivalence toward it. I mean, I haven’t been happy doing it. But, well, I really haven’t given a shit about it, either. I get up; I go to work; I come home. In the words of the famous sage, Garfield, “Big, fat, hairy deal.”

I found myself spending way too much time imbibing in my favorite adult beverage. Yeah, the pain and frustration diminished. But, so did my health.

So, what’s different now? I’m not sure, actually. I suppose part of it has to do with the season of my life. I’m pushing 60 and, looking back, I can’t see all that much that’s been positive. Yeah, there have been moments. The birth of my kids and watching them grow into incredible people. I’ve experienced some joy, (re. a little here; a little there), making music. But, by and large my life has been one bad decision after another. Shame, anger, frustration…these have all been my closest companions. Now, sitting at the cusp of another decade on this big, blue marble dancing in space, I’m not sure that I know who I am or what I’m doing here.

Some may simply blow this off as some kind of ‘mid-life crisis.’ Maybe it is; maybe not. I’ve been in the same industry, doing roughly the same thing, for 45 years. And, it was not my first choice for a career. I entered it as a convenience since my dad was in the same industry and opened some doors for me. My true love was making music. And, while my parents bought me my first guitar, they also made it very clear that playing would only ever a be a hobby. There was simply no future in music. So, it basically became a hobby. Because, you know, you’ve got to make everyone else happy.

As I entered into high school my interest in Christian ministry was piqued. I decided to go to Malone College in Canton, Ohio to begin walking the path to the pastorate. However, a month before I was to leave, I decided to go into the workforce. I had been working all that summer, had a new car and some money in my pocket. So, why bother with college? (Another bad decision.)

So, why am I sharing this? Well, I think that I’m not alone. I think that there are a lot of folks out there that experience depression, frustration, anger and regret because their lives have been something less than they expected. As teens and young adults we had great aspirations. I had the great fortune to grow up in one of the most idealistic times in history, the 1960’s. We witnessed, and were a part of, tectonic shifts in western culture. We were going to lead the world into a new reality that encompassed equality and justice. We fought against the horrific debacle that was Viet Nam. We pulled at the scaffolding that held up the political machines that oppressed African-Americans, women and other marginalized people. The so-called ‘establishment’ was vulnerable and we went after that vulnerability.

Since then, however, I’ve watched nearly all of those who stood with me for justice and equality join in the very establishment that we worked to get past. They have embraced the same white, privileged, patriarchal way of life that has placed it’s heel on the necks of the marginalized.

So, here I am. Looking back at lost purpose, missed opportunities and many, many bad decisions. I guess that I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel. Or else, I wouldn’t be writing things like this. Things to stir up shit. Things to make complacent people think about their own place in the cultural cosmos.

What do you think? Has your life been what you once dreamed it would be? What suggestions do you have for moving forward? Or, am I a total loon that has missed the point? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thoughts for a Wednesday Morning

hd-nebula-wallpaperAll of us go through periods when the light seems to be far off and obscured. We spend time in introspection wondering what ever happened to the joy and innocence that existed so very long ago. Anger, frustration, hurt and shame seem to be constant companions. How in the world did my life turn out like this? This question is one that I’ve been asking myself. Why have I taken every opportunity to shoot myself in the foot? I look in the mirror and really don’t like the person staring back at me.

I approached God about this. “Why,” I asked, “haven’t things ‘worked together’ for my good?” Now, I know that some will ask me why I’m counting lemons when there are so many cherries around. So, yes, I’ll concede that not all things are a downer. But, those things are external. What I’m talking about here are the internal things. The feelings and emotions, thoughts and dreams that make us human seem to have fallen in the desert where they shrivel and die.

Then God began to show me the flaws and imperfections, some deadly, that existed throughout the Cosmos.

Tectonic shifts, volcanic activity, super-novas, meteors and asteroids crashing into planets and each other. The universe is a very dangerous place. Yet, look at the beauty that can spring forth from these ashes. Beautiful islands and majestic mountains are created by the natural ebb and flow of the earth’s molten core. Great nebulae expanding out from some great cosmic explosion. From these new stars or planets may even be birthed.

Then God said, “I love all of this! The forces, great and small, that work together to create and recreate reveal the life that I have shared with all things. Yes, some of the forces destroy. Yet, even in death there is the seed for new life. You are no different. With the darkness and struggle you find yourself in is a spark that promises creation of new things.”

Has this changed how I feel? No. It has, however, given me something to consider. Perhaps, in time I’ll be able to fully embrace who I have become and not mourn the loss of innocence. Perhaps, not. That’s tomorrow’s concern. I’m having enough difficulty dealing with here and now.

I really don’t know if any of this makes sense. Or, if it’s just more ramblings of a mad man. But, I suspect that I’m not alone in all of this.

The Wise Men…Who Were They?

wisemenOne of the stories that has become part of our holiday season is the story of the Magi. It’s been romanticized to the point that the story we tell today bears little resemblance to the story written by Matthew. It now has three kings from the East bearing gifts to the infant Christ. They have even been given names! Tradition in the West has graced them the monikers Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. They are depicted as riding their camels across the desert ‘following yonder star.’ In some places, even the crèche has them standing around with the shepherds and animals. It’s a nice story. It’s a warm and emotional story. But, it’s not the story that Matthew tells.

Matthew’s story is one of international interest. It also has touches of courtly intrigue and deception. It starts with the statement, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea…” The writer doesn’t give us a time frame for this. It’s just sometime ‘after.’ Later in the chapter we learn that Jesus may have been as old as two years. But, that’s a story for another day.

The Magi were most likely astrologers from the region we now know as Iraq. These people had a relationship with the heavens that has been lost to us today. At some point they recognized some new celestial event. They called it a ‘star.’ Through their training and practices they discerned that this ‘star’ hailed the birth of a new king of the Jewish people. Perhaps they were sensitive to this because there was still a fairly vibrant Jewish community left from the Babylonian captivity half a millennium earlier. In any case, they thought that a new king of the Jews would be in the Jewish capital of Jerusalem, so they loaded up their caravan and headed west. It’s highly unlikely that there were only three Magi in the caravan. And, they would have been traveling with an armed escort as well as servants and supplies.

They arrived in Jerusalem and began asking where the king was. Well, of course they were directed to Herod the Great. They told their tale to Herod, who was not happy about this. Matthew tells us that “when King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” I can understand why Herod was disturbed. He was ruthless in his pursuit of power and prestige. He spent millions building cities and edifices for the glory of his name and legacy. He was probably the greatest builder of his day. He was also a man who would not hesitate to have someone’s throat cut if he thought they were a threat to his position. Caesar Augustus is reported to have said that it would be better to be one of Herod’s pigs than one of his sons. This was the person to whom the Magi reported. The rest of Jerusalem would be upset and worried if Herod was upset and worried. No one knew what he might do, but they all knew what he was capable of. And, there was the problem of Rome. As a vassal state, Palestine could come under Rome’s scrutiny if a new ‘king’ suddenly appeared on the scene. As we see from the end of the gospel, claiming to be the ‘king of the Jews’ did not have a great retirement policy.

Anyway, Herod had his people figure out that the new king would be born in Bethlehem. He sent the Magi out to find him and report back his location. At this point Matthew states that the “star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” Apparently, after the star originally appeared, they must have lost sight of it. They knew it was about the Jews, so they traveled there. But, now, having left Herod’s presence, the star reappeared and they could not contain their exuberance. When they found the house where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were staying, they “bowed down and worshiped him.” They presented the child with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Royal gifts for a royal child. As they slept that night, the story reports that they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. They decided to return to the East by a different route and left.

Now, I could stop here. That’s pretty much the story in a nutshell. But, I think that there are some things to be learned about God and God’s love for humanity as a whole. I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that God chose to announce Jesus’ birth to those who were marginalized in society. Those who had no voice or who were considered unclean or ‘outsiders.’ First, the choice of Mary and Joseph to be parents. They were not upper class folks. Joseph was a craftsman and Mary was a child herself. Second, the shepherds. These people could not even testify in court because their word was considered to be as worthless as their vocation. Third, the gentile Magi. Not only were they outsiders, they worshiped the heavenly host and other gods. They were idolaters! Yet, God chose these people to welcome the Word of God into our world. The Magi used their own, dare I say, God given talents to discern what God was doing in the world. Pagan astrology and knowledge led them to worship Jesus. After they came and bowed before Jesus and worshiped him, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. What I found interesting was that we are not told how they happened to receive this dream. In the two instances where Joseph received divine instructions through dreams, we are clearly told that “the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.” There’s no such caveat in the Magi’s dream. Could it simply be that the writer did not want to reveal such a close association between the God of the Jews and these gentiles? Perhaps. Or, could it be that there was another way that dreams are communicated to people other than God? I’m not speaking of something dark or demonic. But, perhaps something natural, that because of their training and practices, the Magi they were sensitive to? God works in many mysterious ways.

How should this inform how Christ-followers should respond to others? We see that God seems to prefer communicating with the poor, the marginalized and the ‘other.’ The wealthy, powerful and privileged are left on the outside wondering what’s going on. The ‘other’ includes those who do not think nor believe like ‘we’ do. And, apparently, that’s OK with God! Perhaps we should take a lesson from God and learn that God is accepting of all people wherever they live and whatever they happen to think and believe. They do not need to become like ‘us’ for God to love and accept them. If God can ask the Magi to join in God’s plan for the world and send them on their way in peace, why can’t we?

The Nativity – Revisited

NativityThe caravan moved slowly up toward Jerusalem. It had been a long journey from Galilee through Samaria. We could not travel very fast because of the young, pregnant woman. Most of the caravan stopped in Jerusalem. We, however, had a few more miles to go to get to our ancestral home of Bethlehem.

We entered the town and located the home of Joseph’s cousin. Entering, we greeted those already gathered. “Shalom! Baruch hashem Adonai!” “Peace! Bless the name of the Lord!” Unpacking our donkeys, we noticed that there were a lot of people already present. It seems that the whole clan had answered Caesar’s demand that we return for this census. Joseph helped Mary up to the living quarters while I got fodder for the donkeys. As I turned to climb the stairs I saw Joseph gesturing angrily.

“No guest room?! My wife is going to give birth at any moment! You must make room for her and the child!”

“No, we cannot. There are too many people. We cannot have one room given to her alone.”

“Wait,” one of Joseph’s aunts said. “We can fix a place for her down below. There is plenty of fresh straw. And, we can put blankets down to help make her more comfortable.”

Mary, being young and new to the family looked at Joseph and nodded. She was already suspect, being pregnant already. She did not want to give the family any more reason to look down on her.

Evening came. Mary was having contractions every few minutes. One of the aunts acted as midwife. They made Mary as comfortable as possible.

Joseph was upstairs with the rest of the family. He was pacing the floor. One cousin scolded him, “Sit down and relax! Everything will be fine. This is not the first child ever born!”

But, everyone knew that many first pregnancies did not end well. Especially, when the mother was as young as Mary. In addition, both Joseph and Mary were anxious about the child. That strange man that had appeared nine months ago had said some very strange things about this child. As the birth drew near, the young parents wondered what kind of creature was about to enter their world.

It seemed as though Mary had been laboring for hours. With a final push the child arrived. With a cry, the child took his first breath. The midwife lifted the child and tied off the umbilicus.

“It’s a boy!”

Joseph gave a sigh of relief. The others began to pour bowls of wine and a party celebrating the birth of a first-born son began. They sang and danced and drank. When Mary was cleaned up and the child wrapped in clean cloths, Joseph was summoned to come down. He looked compassionately at Mary. She was so strong and brave…no longer a child. Joseph reached into the feeding trough in which his newborn son had been laid. He picked him up.

“My son, Yeshua!

A little later I looked up and saw a small group of people entering the house. By the staves that they were carrying I could tell that they were shepherds.

“Who let this rabble in?” I thought. Shepherds were not usually welcome among respectable people. They walked over to where the child lay sleeping.

“We were out in the field tending the sheep. Suddenly, there was a great light in the sky! We feared that something was going to take our sheep and harm us! Then, we heard a voice saying that a child had been born…here…in Bethlehem. The voice said that this child is the Messiah who we have been waiting for!”

Another shepherd spoke up saying, “Then there was a great host praising God! They gave God glory and said that peace was to reign between God and those whom God favors!”

We poured bowls of wine for the shepherds and continued to celebrate throughout the night.

However, Mary had a puzzled look on her face. She said nothing.!

May God Bless you all and Merry Christmas

On Grapes and Gratitude

vineyardThis morning’s Exercise focused on a passage from the Gospel according to Mark. In chapter 12, the first few verses, a story is recorded about a man who planted a vineyard. He planted the vines, built a wine press and built a wall around it. He then leased it to some folks to tend the vines and, in time, bring in the harvest. At the time of the harvest, so the story goes, the man sent someone to collect his share of the fruit. The tenants beat him and sent him away empty handed. This process was repeated several times. Some servants were beaten, others killed. Finally, the man sent his son to collect. For some reason, he thought that the tenants would respect his son. The tenants took the son outside of the vineyard and killed him. Apparently, they thought this would allow them to lay claim to the vineyard. The story ends with the threat of the man coming himself and destroying the tenants.

Fun story, eh, kids? Give me what’s mine or, in the words of Achmed the Dead Terrorist, “I keel you!” But, that’s not the point of the story. In it, the man prepared the vineyard with everything necessary for a successful operation at his own expense. The plants, buildings, wall and winepress were all put in place. Workers were secured to tend to his investment. Arrangements were agreed to in which at the harvest the man would receive a share. This was his Return On Investment. The tenants, however, either felt entitled to the whole or simply were not mindful of the man’s claim. Personally, I think that they felt that since they had done all of the labor they were entitled to the entire harvest. I think that they felt secure within the walls that the man had built. And, I speculate that they did not expect the man to do anything about it. They were arrogant and self-seeking. There was apparently no concern for possible consequences to their actions.

The story ends with a threat. It doesn’t finish with the destruction of the tenants, only the statement that the man would be within his rights to come and take what was his by force. Now, like any parable, eventually comparisons to life events break down. And, I don’t want to stretch this into something it was not intended for. A couple of things that I did notice, though…

  • The man was mindful of what was necessary to run a successful business. He prepared everything that was necessary to turn a profit and provide for himself, his family and the tenants.
  • He graciously provided for the tenants’ livelihood by giving them free reign to care for the vineyard.
  • He exhibited unusual patience by sending, and continuing to send people to collect his share.
  • Ultimately, he sent his own son, his heir, to collect payment.

I think that if I had to highlight any one point of the story it would be gratitude. The man had done everything in his power to see to the well-being of the tenants. They had no investment in the vineyard. It was pretty much handed to them. The man did not tell them how to care for it…he was not a micro-manager. In the end, he simply wanted the tenants to show respect and gratitude by providing his share. By their actions the tenants revealed greed, disrespect and ingratitude. They considered the vineyard and its produce theirs and they were not about to share it.

I know that I don’t show gratitude for much of what I’ve been given. I have a life, people, a place and a mind that thinks. And, most of the time I consider all of this mine. I forget, or am not mindful, of the Source from which these things come. Honestly, I don’t see that changing a great deal. Yeah, this story has reminded me that gratitude should be the natural response to such graciousness. But, I forget sometimes. I don’t think that I’m alone in this. That’s why I’m sharing it. Perhaps, we all need a reminder to be thankful from time to time.

More Musings on a Wednesday Morning

4.1.1The journey begins. No one said that it would be easy. Rocks; boulders; deep crevasses impede forward motion. Yet, forward we must go. For, to retreat…to backtrack…is futility itself. Clambering over obstacles. Vaulting over lacerations  in the earth, deep and unhealed that no salve can sooth. Forward, ever forward.

Yet above, you know, that place where God dwells insulated from the mundane…the “everyday.” The place where mere mortals press onward. Forward, ever forward.

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child.” But, I am no longer a child. I am enveloped by the ‘NOW!’ Beneath azure skies where the gods dance I am enshrouded by the nebulous mist of incense filling the temple of my heart. NOW! Pressing me forward, ever forward.

Attentive to the sound of my breath; my heart playing rhythms reaching out to the life that surrounds me. Searching for intimacy. Where are you, my Soul? Come! Take my hand as we leap, dance and run forward, ever forward.

In those days darkness will draw near. The sound of flies buzzing in my ears. I will lie down to rest. Sleep! Blesséd sleep! Yet, the journey does not end. For even now…I must press on forward, ever forward.

Musings on a Wednesday Morning

I love sitting in the stillness of the morning. Outside there are the sounds of crickets and the occasional acorn falling on a nearby rooftop. A candle, the scent of cinnamon, burns and fills the room with autumn. My thoughts wander here and there. They touch memories and sensations within me; without me. In the core of my being, my heart, I sense God’s presence. Peace. Be still, O my soul.

riverI allow the Muse to guide me. ‘Where shall we go? To what far off land or sea or star?’ Perhaps, we’ll simply drift on a river as it meanders through green fields. We listen to the sound of the water flowing gently over a bed of small rocks and pebbles. It tells tales of aeons past. It knows the fish and the fowl by name. Ancient people traveled along its banks; floated on its back. Never tiring, it bends and winds its way from its source to the Great Sea. There its life mingles with that of the Other in brackish love-making in which it is embraced, consumed by this One. Is this not the way of it? We travel the path before us. Touching and being touched we grow and we learn. From our beginning, our source, we are destined to live, laugh, cry…love. If fortune smiles upon us, another may join in our journey. A companion, a friend…a lover. However, our path and theirs are not the same. Even though we walk together I have my own quest. And, you have yours. Joyful as our time spent together may be, one day our ways must diverge. You will be joined to Another. Embraced by the One who is the true Source. And, I…I will flow into the Great Sea.

To Suffer…and To Suffer With

In a recent post I mused about God’s relationship with the entirety of the Good Creation. That, perhaps, at the moment that the universe began to grow and form God had shared a part of God’s own essence. We are all interconnected, related, because of the Breath of God that has given to us. In another post I wrote a little about my own journey through depression and self-loathing. The story is painful for me to recount. But, I must share just a tad more.

This week I messaged a young person who is battling her own inner demons of depression. I don’t know why, but something about this person has caused my heart to be open…vulnerable. I have tried to encourage her to ‘keep on keepin’ on.’ In a reply she wrote something that really caught me off guard. I quickly responded with an apology. But, I felt horrible inside. Now, for most people the exchange would have been nothing to be concerned about. The words shared were neither abusive nor inappropriate. However, what I had thought would be helpful was rejected. By extension, I felt rejected. When a person lives with depression, any rejection, real or perceived, can throw that person into a downward spiral into interior depths where all sorts of beasties live. Throughout the remainder of that day I was pretty much lost. It got to the point where I asked a friend of mine why I was such an ‘asswipe.’ Sleep was lost to me that night as I considered and reconsidered what had happened. I beat myself up for feeling bad. I cursed myself for the words, as innocuous as they were. Other unrelated issues began to pop up and cause more anxiety. You see, with me that’s how depression works. It causes all of my strength to focus inwardly. I can see nothing but my own faults and inadequacies.

The next morning as I was trying to meditate and pray, I picked up a book by Brian McClaren compassionentitled Naked Spirituality. I had been reading it recently for, I don’t know, the umpteenth time. I opened it to the place I had marked the last time I had read from it. The words jumped off of the page! He was writing about compassion. Particularly, how we respond to the suffering of others. The word does not, as some have said, have anything to do with having passion, as in “she is passionate about someone or something.” The passion part of the word carries the same meaning as when people speak of the Passion of Christ. It is derived from Latin and can be translated “to suffer with.” McClaren wrote that when we are presented with the suffering of others we can respond in one of several ways. We may become “calloused, uncaring, embittered, or overwhelmed.” I had become clearly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by this young person’s suffering and by my own inability to deal with rejection. Compassion was what  I needed. And, I needed it now! Compassion forces folks to look outside of themselves. Our gaze looks upward and outward for relief for the object of our compassion. It breaks forth in pleas for mercy. And, as McClaren wrote, it enables us to “choose connection over disconnection, compassion over apathy, commitment and expansion over constriction and contraction.” I began to pray. Prayer for this young person and her life. Prayer for the enlargement of my heart. Prayer that took my eyes off of me and fixed them on the loving Creator who imbued me and this other person with God’s own breath. Have I found a cure for depression? No, it’s something that I will continue to live with. However, I have found another weapon to use against it. Compassion.

Relationships…What if?

CreationI started to write this post a few days after we buried Dad. It’s taken a little longer to write than I had originally thought.

I’ve just gone back to work after Dad’s passing. I have mixed feelings about going back. Part of me really would like to take a few more days to recover from the emotional stress of watching Dad during his final hours. Lack of sleep and good nutrition has left me physically drained. Another part of me feels the need to get back in the saddle. Work can be a good diversion, focusing the mind on tasks other than funerals and mourning.
The outpouring of support from extended family and friends has been amazing. I’m not sure that I would be of much use to anyone if not for their encouragement and presence. Yeah, I still like books, but all of these people made the last week not only bearable, but in many ways, pleasant. What can I say? We’re all connected in some way. There is something more than just our common humanity at play here. We all share in the brevity and frailty of life. Love given and received binds us with others as we form communities.
But, there is something more. The connection between us as humans is vast and wide. Why would a person in one part of the world care about the needs of someone 14,000 miles away on the other side of the world? Especially, when that one person has more than enough cares and troubles of her or his own? How can I travel to another culture, not knowing the language, and actually communicate with someone? Perhaps, there is an affinity between us because we are the same species. You know, ‘birds of a feather.’ That could be part of it, I suppose. However, those birds simply flock together. They don’t go out of their way to care for the needs of others. Some birds don’t even care for their own young! No, I don’t see that being the common thread that binds us. I think that there is something other than our physical reality at play here.
What that something is has been speculated about ever since humans began to think. (Although, there are some folks today that I wonder about.) I’m not going to join in that philosophical discussion. I’m woefully under qualified for that.
However, I might speculate on something else… relationship. What if that common characteristic is buried deep within humanity? And, what if it is empowered by an outside source? (I’m just musing.) Could it be that what we call God, or Creator, or any number of names is responsible for touching each of us? Perhaps there is a relationship between this God and the Good Creation that acts as a catalyst causing humans to care. Not only caring for other humans, but for the Good Creation as well. That would explain why there are organizations such as Green Peace and Doctors Without Borders. There are thousands of shelters for battered and beaten people. Environmental and human rights organizations flourish. All of this in a world that seems bent on self destruction. Why? I have no pat answer. Nor, does anyone else.
Maybe, the relationship between the Creator and the Good Creation has been damaged. This has been the position of the Christian Church. They accept that sometime in the distant past, between 6 & 10 thousand years ago, God created all things and declared them ‘good.’ The entire created universe was pristine, if not ‘perfect.’ Humankind was innocent and enjoyed relationships with God and the creation. However, these humans were somehow enticed to disobey God and suffered a ‘fall’ of some sort that affected all of creation. The good relationships with God and the cosmos were damaged. Yet, there was still something within them, a broken shard of God’s image that continued to allow some people to do good things. This idea was first articulated by Augustine of Hippo in the late 4th to early 5th centuries. Personally, I don’t agree with him about the ‘fall.’ But, more on that at another time.
What if, about 14 billion years ago, the known universe erupted and began to form into the wondrous environment that we now live in? Then, somewhere around 4.5 billion years ago this system of planets and asteroids and other matter began to form around a larger mass that became our Sun. Over time changes occurred due to any number of causes and effects. On the third rock from this sun these changes caused organisms to develop that contained within them the potential for what we call ‘life.’ Eventually, millions more years passed until a certain small segment of these organisms developed and matured until humanity emerged…upright and aware of itself within this Great and Good Creation. Now, I hear the voices saying, “Whoa! Where is God in this? Isn’t this just a rehash of some Darwinian theory?” Well, yeah it is…kind of. But, what if God has been a part of this entire process? Perhaps not in an entirely active way. Nor, as the deists would say, as a passive observer. Maybe, God breathed God’s life into that original bit of matter and imbued it with God’s own presence. I’m not going to go into panentheism. I don’t think that the universe is part of God nor that the universe is synonymous with God. I’m saying that, perhaps, God is the One who animated and gave ‘life’ to the process. That God has carefully watched over the cosmos, not as an ‘intelligent designer,’ but as a caring and loving parent who knew and trusted that things would develop a certain way.
In the beginning, the breath of God…Ruach Elohim, who hovered over the formless void…was God the Spirit. The Word of God, spoken, brought order out of chaos. God, present from the beginning, shared part of God’s self with what became the Cosmos. Humans, aware of time, space and self also had the capacity to ‘know’ God. Far from being a separate entity at the top of some cosmic hierarchy, humans have derived their essence from that which erupted all those billions of years earlier. We are ‘part and parcel’ with all of the Good Creation. Relationships…they are built into us…from the beginning.