This morning I went for my early morning walk in the warm sunshine. Around the local creeks I wandered and enjoyed the birdsong in the creek valleys. Diverse and beautiful, the birds sang through the morning. The creek bubbled over rocks and also filled the valley with gentle sound. The occasional flickering of tree branches and leaves as a gentle breeze came and went added to the symphony. Of course the scurrying of lizards and insects and, I suspect, other wildlife added a rhythmic variety, along with my footsteps on stones, sand and leaf litter. It was lovely to wander through the dappled sunlight that filtered through trees, ferns and bushes. The diversity of plant life is beautiful – especially if you can turn a blind eye to the infiltration of weeds.
A walk through the local bush is a levelling experience that reminds me I am part of this beautiful world, another creature alongside the multitude of diverse and beautiful creatures that share this neighbourhood – and planet. I am not alone and as I wandered I wondered about the connections between me and them and us. The trees I passed and saw but couldn’t stop to really look at are fellow creatures and their existence is important to me in so many ways. From the oxygen they release and the carbon dioxide they absorb, to the beauty they offer my life and the coolness of shade on a hot day I feel connected in some strange mystical way to these diverse creatures of different species. I need them as they need me, us.
As I wandered and pondered I recognised the interconnectedness of things in the world; that we are all interdependent and need each other. Recently I listened to a podcast that spoke of Quantum Entanglement, a deeply complex part of quantum physics that I don’t really understand but which fascinates me. The speaker, Robin Meyers, is a theologian not a scientist and he put it in the simple way that he and I could understand. What fascinated me is that physicists are developing ideas and theories and observing patterns where, at the smallest level of nature, particles that are in some way related impact each other. Regardless of where they are in the universe if they have been related or connected in some way then the actions (decisions?) of one will instantly affect the other. It is incredible and complex but also wonderful and probably something that most indigenous cultures have known in some way at a macro level for millennia – everything is connected and inter-related.
We know this as well. We know about eco-systems and the relationships between creatures in a food chain. We know that particular warm air current in one part of the world have a profound effect upon weather in another part of the world – droughts or winter snow storms. We know that particular aerosols and hydro-carbons destroy the o-zone layer and that allows higher levels of ultra-violet radiation through and levels of melanoma and skin cancer rise. We know that increasing levels of green-house gases affect the atmosphere and it’s ability to release heat and weather patterns are affected, including an overall warming of the earth. We know that introducing species to control pests usually leads to worse pests – eg the Cane Toad; fox… We know that when one person in a complex set of relationships does or says something, others can be affected for good or bad. We know that when someone in the world perpetrates an evil, there is a ripple effect that radiates out and impacts many, many more people. We are all inter-connected and held together in a web of relationships and interdependency.
The weeks of September in many churches are a Season of Creation and this week the focus is on the cosmos, the world and the worlds beyond the world – a universe so vast and profoundly large and complex we cannot really comprehend it. The night sky glows with stars that radiate light from impossibly large distances away and actually reveal something of the history of the universe (because it takes so long to get to us!). The moon has a profound impact on tides and waterways and even people (and the long-observed lunacy that erupts when there is a full moon). This week’s readings include Proverbs 8:22-31 and Colossians 1:15-20. The first speaks of Wisdom which is described as being with God from the beginning and the source from which all things came into being. Wisdom (or Sophia in Greek) is feminine and the ever-present reality rejoicing in the creative processes of the cosmos. The Colossians passage speaks of the eternal Christ, often referred to as the Cosmic Christ who, again, is the ever-present reality in which all things were/are created and who holds all things together. God is in all, around all and through all things. This image is far from the grandfatherly figure in the sky with long white hair and beard who intervenes as necessary to tinker or fix a few things, answer some prayers but who, for most people, seems mysteriously distant or absent. This alternate image is beautifully captured for me in a term used by Barbara Brown Taylor in her book of the same name, The Luminous Web. God is like a luminous web that holds all things in a Divine balance that is grounded in love and wisdom. This Luminous Web is the force, the power, the love and everything else that we know as ‘God’ and more. It is a mystery that we cannot really comprehend in all its brilliant wonder.
The Luminous Web that is God, connects us to each other and holds all things in connected, interdependent community, a living organism of multiple species co-existent within the Divine Heart, the Luminous Web of God. This image is similar for me to the internet, the World Wide Web, that in its wondrous mystery connects people across time and space through wires or wi-fi. We log into web sites, facebook, twitter and other social media and send emails that connect with people near and far in quick time. We are connected and share photos and stories, problems, pain and joy. We send invitations and wisdom, along with simplistic nonsense, but in all we are connected and held together. It is with far more complexity and mystery that the Luminous Web of Divine wisdom and love holds all things in the creative connectivity of interdependence and shared life. It is wisdom alongside power, energy and love that brings forth and holds creation in energetic, life-giving embrace – the unifying impulse in all creation and the ordering force in all things. This Luminous Web is an ordering and reconciling force that brings all creation into the heart of God and liberates all creatures to become the truly unique and beautiful expressions of life that each is created to be. In order to achieve this deep sense of being we need the power and life of God, love and wisdom. We also need each other and all creatures who share this planet, our beautiful home.