by Linda Ryan
The wider our contemplation of creation, the grander is our conception of God. – Cyril of Jerusalem
This week I’ve been thinking about climate, weather, and all that they entail. It could be that the temperature here in the Phoenix area has been around 90°, and this is only the middle of March! Our average is at least 10° below that, so please don’t mention that global warming doesn’t exist. At least don’t mention it to me.
Climate is part of what makes our world work. Climate defines how much rainfall we get, or are supposed to get. It defines a basic temperature range, what kind of precipitation we can expect, or not expect. It defines where we spend our time, if we have the ability. Folks who are freezing in Minnesota cheerfully drive down to the Phoenix area for the winter because it seldom freezes, and is usually warm enough for them to run around in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts when people like me who live here are bundled up against what we perceive as cold. My friend in Oregon groans when I tell her it’s 90° here because she still cold and getting snow and lots of rain. Can’t please everybody I guess.
Climate has changed over centuries and millennia. When the world was new and pristine it was like a huge garden, or so we are told. There were deserts I’m sure, just as I’m sure there were mountains where the snow never melted and glaciers that crept along and kept forming along with the ice caps. I’m sure there were things like earthquakes and massive windstorms, and typhoons and hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, all affecting our world and our climate in one way or another.
Thing is, God created the world to run according to certain rules. If the balance of things gets out of kilter, something happens. Take fault lines. when the pressure builds up to a certain point, something’s gotta give, and so the earth shakes, rumbles, and acts like an old man trying to get comfortable in a lumpy bed. When a warm air current runs into a cold air current, all kinds of interesting (more or less) happens. God set the rules, then set the world in motion, and it’s been following those rules all along – until humans decided to play God and change things. Too bad we’re not God-wise enough to see clearly what we’re doing.
Since we are unable to control a lot of what goes on in creation, especially when it comes to things like creation itself, we’re just out of luck. We have to admire the fact that God put everything together like a clockmaker forming an instrument that would run well, keep accurate time, and also be interesting to look at. The clockmaker might add a set of gears that would show which planets were circling overhead as well as tell the time of day, chimes on the hour and a quarter hour, and even a very comforting tick-tock as the pendulum swings back and forth. Creation is a bit like that. It started out as finely tuned as a watch of the finest craftsmanship. But then we started “improving.” We completely left God out of creation and put ourselves in.
I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, but I’ve seen enough pictures from enough different viewpoints that I have no doubt that it is a most spectacular place to see. I’ve seen great mountains and I’ve overlooked the Shenandoah Rivers, so old that in places the sides of almost every curve in the river almost touch each other. I seen storms at sea and I’ve seen the fury of hurricanes and typhoons. I’ve felt the rumble and shake of a big earthquake, or even a small one for that matter. Every time I run across something like that it reminds me of how immense this world is and how tiny I am, and then I think about God.
God is so much more than the clockmaker who set this one little blue marble in motion. It’s part of a small universe in a small galaxy off to one side of a super galaxy billions and trillions of miles from the next galaxy or the next star is. We look through telescopes to see if we can find God, but what we find is that the universe is infinitely more expansive, more complex, and more spectacular than we could possibly have ever dreamt, and we haven’t even found the edge of it yet, for all our technology and our looking.
We still haven’t found God, but we have found what God created. I have to agree with Cyril, I can’t contemplate creation without being totally in awe of the Supreme Being with such immense power and such immense love, a God who is the creator of worlds and universes but who willingly cradles each of us in God’s hands, especially when we need a little nurturing.
This week I will contemplate the mystery of God in the enormous diversity of creation itself and my place in it. I look up at Orion, my favorite constellation, and think of all that lies beyond it even as I look at the familiar shape that I have seen many times from my childhood. It’s God’s work, and all that is in that creation, from the lichens on the rocks in the woods and the moss beside streams, to the vast variety of animals. I think about the different kinds of trees and the adorable innocence of babies and kittens and puppies. We are all made of star stuff because God made the stars from stardust and, as we are told on Ash Wednesday, we are dust and to dust we shall return. Guess who made the dust?
In the creation that is God’s playground, go thou and find something awesome in creation that points thee to God. God bless.
By Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons