The New Story
The story of creation which we heard recently at the Easter Vigil has been told and retold for millennia. It has been the bedrock of our cosmology, our story of the universe that has interpreted our past and guided and inspired our shaping of the future. But this story of creation is static. There is no developmental dimension to this story. Creation is a one-time event. There is no relatedness between the elements. Each day of creation is separate and distinct. The Earth is seen as a resource for humans and humans are instructed to subdue the Earth. This is how the people at the time this story was written viewed creation. It was not wrong, just incomplete.
We know now that our God is not static. Our God is an evolutionary God who continually reveals Himself to us in the daily unfolding of creation. Ours is a new story and, in the words of the late Father Thomas Berry, “We are in trouble just now because we are in between stories. The Old Story-the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it-sustained us for a long time. We awoke in the morning and knew where we were. Everything was taken care of because the story was there…Today, however, our traditional story is no longer functioning properly, and we have not yet learned the New Story.” The authors Primack and Abrams tell us that “Ours is probably the first major culture in human history with no shared picture of reality.”
But there is an emerging picture of reality which began when we saw images of our planet for the first time from outer space. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell wrote from his voyage into space, “From here thousands of miles away, the Earth shows the incredible beauty of a magnificent blue and white pearl, floating in a vast, dark sky. It looks like it could fit into the palm of my hand. On it there is everything that is sacred and loved by us.” Our own Sister Paula Gonzalez recounted how that photo of Earth from space transformed her life and through the years she challenged each of us to see creation anew.
All the elements of creation are still there: the darkness and light, the waters above and below, the lands and the oceans, all kinds of plants, the moon and the sun, the creatures of the sea and air, and humans of every color and race. Ours is a God who endlessly creates and not only allows, but loves diversity. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote, “Science takes things apart to see how they work; religion puts things together to see what they mean.” Today we see those separate elements coming together. We now have a Universe Story in which each being in the universe and all modes of being are part of a single comprehensive yet intimate community.
In his call for an ecological conversion, Pope Francis writes: “The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. Everything is interconnected and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity…we are called to an integral ecology which includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us.” Creation is an unfolding drama in which new possibilities of existence are progressively embodied and realized.
Just as the Lord led his people out of Egypt, we, too, are being led to a new place. We are being asked to let go of ideas and beliefs that no longer fit our reality and to embrace a worldview in which we are, in the words of Teilhard de Chardin, “Collaborators in creation. By virtue of Creation, he writes, and still more the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see…Christ has a cosmic body that extends throughout the universe.”
“Through unfathomable depths of time”, Sister Elizabeth Johnson tells us, “God was continuously empowering the cosmos’ own creative emergence. In the process, the natural world itself became an ever more beautiful sacrament of divine presence, a locus of divine compassion, and the bearer of a divine promise that keeps opening it up to a fresh and unexpected future.”
Moses admonished the Israelites, “Do not be afraid!” God was with the Israelites and God is with us today…leading us, guiding us to a new understanding of reality; moving us ever closer to the kin-dom of God. The invitation in Isaiah is an invitation to us. “Turn to the Lord! He can still be found. Call out to God! He is near.
The Universe is the first book of God’s revelation. Even before any Sacred Text was written, God was revealing God’ self through the unfolding universe and is continuing to do so. Creation is an on-going process. God’s revelation through creation is dynamic. Revelation is not finished. New insights into the Universe are new revelations of the God of the Universe. We have entered a new age-one which thrusts us into a new relationship with God and with the community of all living beings. This new understanding, this new sense of communion with planet Earth must enter our minds and hearts and guide all of our actions. Pope Francis reminds us that “The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things.” Just as the women who went to the tomb in the early morning, may we too, carry the news of Jesus’ Resurrection and may His Resurrection open our hearts to God’s infinite creativity.