Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Letter to My Wife - 10/30/13

Dear Emily,

The Jews believed that people are disconnected from four things: God, people, ourselves, and the earth. All that we do are our feeble attempts to reconnect to one of these four.

The creation story reminds us that we as human beings are to live in connection to, not only God, but the earth, as well. The Hebrew word for man is adam; the word adamah means dirt, earth, ground. Man is derived from the dirt. God breathed life into the dirt and brought forth man--Adam.  Man is the only creature that is both physical and spiritual, we are created imago Dei: in the image of God. The first command God gave Adam and Eve was to tend the earth, meaning to take care of it. Not only do our bodies share the same stuff of creation but we are called to care for it, this would mean that our destructive actions toward creation hurts us, as well.

Immersing oneself in the creation narrative, one begins to see a pattern, a rhythm in the text: a repetitive God saw that it was good, Evening and Day for six days, followed by a day of rest. Setting aside the scientific and literal attempts at reading Genesis 1--which are often futile--and reading it for what it is: a poetic creation story. Poetry is not to be taken literal (in the modern sense of the word) but metaphorically. Metaphors can be tricky. We don't like them. We're too scientifically minded to wrestle with, what we consider, imprecise language, certainty is what we're after. But when one opens up a metaphor, one is suddenly inundated with meaning. And poems are brimming with meaning. So, the creation story reveals that all of this stuff around us, this world we live in, has meaning.

The Fall of Man set in motion corruptibility and "separation" from God. No longer were we able to participate in the divine life here and now. Creation as sacrament, as icon, as a way to commune with God, was no longer possible. We as humans, through our actions, are reversing creation. We're returning through corruption to non-existence. 

The Incarnation was (and is) the Word becoming fully human. In Christ both divinity and humanity were united. There's a saying: God became man so that man can become god, meaning, man has been deified: became godlike by grace. Through the Cross and Resurrection, Christ as the Second Adam, conquered death by death. Now, through Christ we can return to incorruptibility, we return to our pre-Fall condition.

Taking this a step further, through the work of Christ, all creation (the whole cosmos) has been deified. The whole universe has been renewed and recreated. Heaven is made manifest here and now, not in some remote distance part of the galaxy. Creation is the cosmic sacrament, icon, by which we come into communion with the Trinity, since He is in all places and fills all things. The Church participates and shares in the divine life, we are healed and live in union with Him. The call to follow Christ, to live a renewed spiritual life, is a call to live by grace, to sync up with the rhythms of creation and have our ears tuned to the Spirit working in all places, in and through all people, and all things. The Church is the fullness of all of this, she's to live a spiritual life--which is really and simply life, since all that we do is spiritual, in a sense.

Unfortunately, many Christians have lost the awe and wonder of creation. They fail to see God in all things. Look outside and see trees with limbs outstretched in worshipful pose. Hear the melodious ripples in the pond. The harmonious symphony of crickets greeting the stars. And the syncopated chirping of birds ushering in another day. It's almost surreal to watch the wind sweep across a field of high grass, and rousing to hear the percussive water-on-stone while resting by a creek. God is present in all of this. There's a reason why St. Francis of Assisi called the Sun brother and the Moon sister.

Your loving husband,

Michael

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