Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Good Friday Reverie on Creation

A Lamb slain from the creation of the world.  (Revelation 13:8)

At the heart of life
death dwells,
but life springs from that heart.
So much more true
than we ever imagined,
this paradox.

The very elements making up our bodies,
the cosmos as a whole,
were forged in dying stars,
the first to flare forth.
Dying yields life.
The very ground under our feet,
the fruit of myriad deaths
becomes the grist for greenly springing new life
that yields, in turn, life which soon becomes earth.

So is it strange that Jesus dying,
as he does upon the rough wood of the cross,
was seen, by some, as an ikon, an image, a glimpse of
a cosmic "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world"?
What happens on Calvary is many things,
including the vivid glimpse of how Things work.

Gargantuan violence fills the universe:
death and suffering, woven into the heart of the process
of cosmic life, dwell in our carbon-based selves.
Seeing this can cause sentient creatures like us to quail,
seeing that we are fated to suffer and die like all the rest.
Which is why the angels always say Do not be afraid.

The reality, both brutal and exquisite is that life and death
locked in the creative balance Darwin saw.
Facing death leads living creatures to adapt with
greater development and complexity.
That is the path that brought earth to birth us
offspring of the Great Tree of life,
offspring of the God who birth it all.

Bigger than one man, what happens today on Calvary
bigger than local or imperial politics,
bigger than something merely human,
important and real as all means to humans.

It is a showing, a revelation, of something structural to Reality itself,
from bottom to top, a truth that means
even the blood of martyrs can be the seed of things living and true.

Good Friday's death may make us squeamish,
its memory uneasy if we let it,
for the bone of who we are becomes exposed:
our creatureliness, our vulnerability,
our mandatory participation in the rhythm of life.
Coming near cross and altar threatens to sweep us
into the tidal waves of the universe itself.
The green dragon of life lurks hidden by the altar frontal.

So many ancient myths tell us of that at the birth of the cosmos
a great ox, or cosmic human or primal mother was sacrificed, slain,
and all things sprang into life from this.
The myths say this because this Mystery is at the heart of things.

Do not be afraid,  the angels always say when we stumble upon them.
Do not be afraid: this is the way it is, this dance of life and death.
Do not fear that life goes down to death, for life springs from death.
unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground it remains alone, 
but it it dies, it bears much fruit. 

Shall we then resent that the bright flaring of our lives
arises out of the past and dies into the future?
Shall we be so attached to our single organism and our unique mind
that we cannot see how much we are each patterns of the cosmos, working out,
in our brief adventure, new patterns that enrich the whole?

That we are lives that die into that deepest Ground which is divine
to bear—who knows—new life in forms we even cannot begin to imagine?

                                                       —RCM, Holy Week 2014

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