As I walked over to the office early this morning, the new-fallen snow lay like a wet blanket on the ground. The slow freezing rain fell like a trowel on the heavy snow; smoothing out the contours of the earth and removing all form from the landscape. Above there was nothing but formless gray. The same below. What a day here in Cincinnati.
In The Beginning, God hovered over the waters, and they were formless and void until he spoke and separated the light from the darkness. That’s how I feel now: formless and void. In those ancient stories, the waters always represent chaos, and the taming of them is always the superior act of power and omnipotence. God speaking out into the darkness and calling it “day” and “night” was, to the ancient peoples of Syria and Palestine, the act of a supreme being, triumphing over their most ancient fears, and bringing order to chaos.
Maybe that’s the point of the story really… not whether the earth was created in seven days, or whether God literally spoke out of the darkness and formed matter from nothing… but that God, the creator, the Spirit behind and within all things, is actually a calming, uniting force in the universe, and not a perpetuator of chaos. The principal power reflected in the Syrian and Persian myths prior to these stories was Leviathan, the sea serpent. He was the very embodiment of dark, roiling chaos. The unknown. The darkness. And a God who, not through great displays of might and strength, but in his very words, triumphs over all the forces of the unknown, might just be one that, by extension, does the same thing for individual people.
This morning I need some of that. My home is in chaos. My family… my life… chaos. Formless. Void. And needing someone, or something, to step in and divide the darkness from the light. To say, “This is good (worth pursuing, beneficial, life giving); and this is not.” I need to see creation, Genesis, in my life today. I need to believe that the forces of order and peace are more powerful than the forces of destruction and torment. The outward signs don’t indicate that. Around me I see decay and destruction. I see and feel and hear and smell death and darkness and despair, especially on a morning like this, in a city like this. But I know that above the clouds the sun still shines.
I’ve driven up in to the Idaho mountains on days like this, when the city was socked in by smog and too much wood-smoke, and it seemed like it had been that way forever. But driving up Shaw Mountain Road on a quiet morning outside of Boise, you rise in the grey foothills through the fog. You drive on though the only change is the increasing desolation of the landscape. The high desert hills seem to grow even sparser. But as you round the corner through the fog… not thinking about anything except making sure you and your truck don’t end up a snowball of twisted, tangled, broken metal at the bottom of the canyon; you break through. And it is Glory. A new sunrise, just for you. Epiphany. The air is clear. The sun is bright and warm. There are birds up here and squirrels and life that you hadn’t realized was missing in the depression down below. The air is cleaner. And the sun, as it warms your body and brings color into your skin, and brightens your spirits… reminds you that there is life behind it all. That behind the clouds, and above the gloom, and possibly, hopefully behind Everything, there is this light, and this warmth. And you say, “Yes.” And it is good.
Somewhere above all this is a light, and warmth, and goodness. And I hope within my heart that it is not unaware or unconcerned with what goes on down here, no matter how it may seem. It may not be personal, or imminent, but I do believe it is Good, and that it is in and through and under and above all things. And if I pray these days, it is simply an attempt to align myself with that force, that feeling, that vibration. To be mindful of the sun, that goes on shining and warming and filling the universe. Even in the darkest night. Even when it’s hidden by clouds. It is there, and it is here.
This morning, I try to hold on to that.