Category Archives: Spirituality
There is beauty everywhere.
The whole earth is full of [God’s] glory. (Isaiah 6:3)
The Gilmore Homes Housing Project where 25-year-old Freddie Gray was arrested and subsequently killed by bouncing around in a police van, is in one of the most blighted areas of my home town, Baltimore. A friend of mine recently visited that area and noted that, in spite of the obvious blight, beauty abounds. Grassroots organizations are doing all sorts of things to advance peace and justice. Murals and graffiti art bring color. Music plays. Churches are serving, feeding, guiding, advocating, coming along side. Kingdom of God people are pushing back the darkness.
Genesis opens with darkness everywhere – chaos, waters, an empty void. The Spirit of God hovers like a tern, wings of energy – light, life, beauty.
Ancient Neareastern creation myths imagined gods who created people to be their slaves. People built them houses called temples and fed them with animal sacrifices. The gods were appeased with human sacrifices. In return, the gods sent rain for the crops and aid in defeating enemies. An image of the god was placed in the temple and the chief priest breathed into it; the image then contained the spirit of the god. Ziggurats were built nearby – steps so the god could get down to her house.
Genesis is a creation story flipped upside down. God builds God’s own temple – creation, the natural universe. God places God’s own image in the temple – humans. God breathes into them and they become vessels holding the divine spirit. People are created to love and be loved, not to be slaves. Their task is to care for creation and spread its beauty beyond the garden. Their vocation is to love in four directions – God, others, themselves, and the natural world.
They fail and chaos rushes in – plagues, wars, killing, hatred, violence, injustice, prejudice, and poverty.
God begins the Great Divine Rescue Project. A man named Abraham is chosen; a nation called Israel is raised up; a Messiah named Jesus inaugurates the kingdom of God on earth. Messiah defeats death by dying, and evil by loving. The good news is proclaimed and a multiethnic, multicultural global family of kingdom people acting like Jesus brings divine love and beauty to the world.
The Kingdom of God is here now.
The Kingdom of God is not yet.
“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.”
One day, heaven and earth will merge.
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)
Ah, but the waters are the seas! The oceans fill the hollows of the planet. Creation is the vessel that holds the divine presence. The universe is the chalice. The Holy Spirit is the wine. Empty, the chalice is beautiful. Full, it is even more beautiful.
Every human being, no matter how worn, dented, chipped, wounded, or scarred, is beautiful. All are the imago Dei. Every single one is valuable, precious, sacred. When filled with holy spirit, they become even more beautiful – loving even their enemies, rejecting the myth of redemptive violence, serving, washing feet, bringing justice, healing, health, and wholeness.
He (Jesus) who descended (came to earth as God incarnate) is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. (Ephesians 4:10)
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord. (Psalm 33:5)
Dive into the ocean hidden in your chest, and discover a new world in yourself. — Attar of Nishapur
Strange and wonderful music reverberates throughout the cosmos.
How is it that millions of fragments can think and act as one? How do starlings form massive murmurations that fire the imagination? Who choreographs hundreds of lightening bugs? How can the physical cells that were once a man mowing lawns split into a billion points of light yet communicate and dance as one?
And yet, that is exactly where he found himself a millisecond after his heart seized to a stop. Fully awake. Fully alive. Fully aware. Intact. Flying, swirling, weaving, cellular particles turning in on themselves, now a pirouette, revolving, twirling, dancing to the hymn of the universe, flashing through galaxies where time bends and light stands still.
All the molecules he had always called “me” split apart, dissipated, separated, drifting off in varied directions among quasars and nova, swirling about the fiery rings of black holes where space-time curves and braids into strands of aqua light, and where seraphim chant haunting symphonies of harmonious ethereal sounds.
He was quite calm, observing with interest that he was cognizant yet simultaneously in millions of molecules spread over galaxies, swimming in oceans, climbing mountains, strolling through gardens, visiting his widow in her dreams, and flying through space.
His multiplicity-singularity dove like roosting chimney swifts into a massive black hole where his fragments coalesced into a new body – immortal, no longer susceptible to disease or pain, no longer limited by time or space, able to surf the stars and ride the dolphins across seas of warm grace.
Through wormholes and ripples of space-time, whole, solid, embodied. Here people become musical notes and the colors of the morning. Here, people merge with electromagnetic energy. Eons of oceans surge within Denisovan descendants.
Here, bighorn sheep speak quietly.
Aborigines explain their intricate petroglyphs to medieval scholars who stroke their beards and consult dusty tomes.
Here, there are no warriors, no bullies, no officers with guns, no judges with gavels, no cells, no chains. Bombastic politicians lie hog-tied and gagged, merchants weep, and dictators wring their hands while children laugh and play, tossing dreams into the air. Amber stardust floats back to earth and takes the form of talking frogs wearing waistcoats and geese sporting bonnets.
Here Alpha becomes Omega. He swirls with the hymns of the cosmos and communes with the atoms from which he was formed and the seawater that courses through his veins. He can simultaneously be fully present in dozens of places.
Space-time turns out to not be empty, nor cold. There is a substance, an ether, like air to a bird, like water to a fish, in which all dwells. It feels warm, comforting, pleasant, relaxing, and peaceful. Tranquility reigns.
Deep within, we intuitively sense that we are cradled by something both wonderful and incomprehensible.