This morning I read Peattie's account of "One Ante Meridian"--the hour after the midnight hour.
because he can do no otherwise--as if the stars were only
configurations of fanciful meaning. As if he had a great destiny,
in time and space. All life is with him aboard this curious Ark of
earth. It breathes and runs and flings out its spores in the night
and with feathered antennae senses significant orders through
the dark miles, precisely as if it were not limited in its rounds to
a zone as fine as a circlet of thread. It denies death, by every birth, and by every existence builds as if it were possible for everything to be built to last."
I read those words and then my mind began to wander. Where had I encountered that sense of limitlessness and possibility. I remembered a favorite psalm--a psalm of limits and possibilities. Here's Stephen Mitchell's translation of that psalm:
Unnamable God, how measureless
is your power on all the earth
and how radiant the sky.
When I look up at your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the multitude of stars,
what is man, that you love him,
and woman, that you gladden your heart?
Yet you made us almost like the angels
and crowned us with understanding.
You put us in charge of all creatures
and place your whole earth in our hands:
all animals, tame and wild,
all forets, fields, and deserts,
even the pure air of the sky,
even the depths of the ocean.
Unnamable God, how terrible
is our power on all the earth!
This Sunday we will hear the unfolding of the creation story. The groundling-- as one translator puts it--moving from one to two, from it or them to man and to woman. It's a story of differentiation--woman and man, creator and created, humanity and divinity. It's a story of limits and the testing of limits. And, interestingly, it's a story of God stepping back from the brink.
In that story I hear echoes of the psalms. Or maybe in the psalms I hear echoes--of that story and of the world Peattie describes. "...how terrible is our power on all the earth!" and "All life is with him (man) on this curious ark of Earth".
Tonight, as I write this letter, I'm remembering what a dangerous world we live in. Half way around the world a familiar powder keg stands poised to explode. In a part of our world where over 150 years ago 600 British soldiers rode into the valley of death (Tennyson), the Cold War rises its gnarly head. Not far from the borders that one hundred years ago Russian troops crossed and the world toppled into war, soldiers again cross borders and leaders exchange threats. "...how terrible is our power on all the earth."
It's clear we are not living in the Garden with God. And yet that story from Genesis, that story of humans pushing limits and transgressing boundaries, gives me hope. For that story from Genesis is also a story of God stepping back from the brink. You and I and our friends and enemies are all made in the image of a God who steps back from the brink not once but often. We, too, can step back--both as individuals and as peoples--for we are made in the image of God.
Peace be with us.