“There is another way to conceive of our life in God, but it requires a different worldview— not a clockwork universe in which individuals function as discrete springs and gears, but one that looks more like a luminous web, in which the whole is far more than the parts. In this universe, there is no such thing as an individual apart from his or her relationships. Every interaction— between people and people, between people and things, between things and things— changes the face of history. Life on earth cannot be reduced to four sure-fire rules. It is an ever-unfolding mystery that defies precise prediction. Meanwhile, in this universe, there is no such thing as ‘parts.’ The whole is the fundamental unity of reality.”1.

Our connections, each with the Other, each with all things here and there, past and present, are easily ignored or overlooked. The connections are too big to see, too small, too normal to examine objectively  or too extraordinary to regard as having anything at all to do with us. That we (me and you: our bodies, our hair and tongues and the rest of our physical beings) are somehow in the same ballpark as the planet Pluto, and both we and Pluto are players in the expansion of the universe and the gravitational warps of time, was not much more for most of us than a paragraph in a 12th grade science textbook.

Now, since last July, we’ve got photographs from Pluto. Not OF Pluto, but FROM Pluto.

Look closely enough through a microscope at the neurological connections in our brains and beyond to our toes and the patterns of ebb and flow look like nothing so much as satellite views of the Euphrates River Valley or the Mississippi Delta. And now we know those similarities of appearance are the antithesis of coincidence but a direct result of gravity’s dance with oceans and planetary orbits.

That we are all composed of starstuff was awesome news to most of us forty years ago, but now (thank you, Carl Sagan) it is the kind of truth that we must intentionally stifle lest we begin to destroy carefully crafted and “valuable” political/economic/cultural barriers between ourselves and ________ (fill in the name of another group of humans of your choice here).

We chew sunshine when we eat lettuce (or any green leaf), drink of the Arctic Ocean when eat at Whataburgers (or the Neiman-Marcus Tea Room), and breathe in (at an alarmingly high rate) the SAME atoms of oxygen breathed by pteradactyls, Alexander the Great, Jack the Ripper, and that jerk down the street with the always-barking dog. We humans and toadstools share 42% of a DNA template!

And on and on and on, ad infinitum..(literally).

The Connections are real. Between you and me and everything and everyone else pastpresentfuture, world without end, amen.

The gospel writer John described Jesus as the Word made Flesh. We know stuff that John didn’t know, though, and therefore couldn’t describe. It expands, widens, and deepens my , understanding and fascination with the Christ to know him as the Word made Flesh but also as the Word made starstuff in ALL of its forms: mountains, meteorites, quasars, synaptic receptors, lava, ice flows, bacteria, soil and..

Everything else: and it is all luminous. It is all filled with Light..

(amen, again)

1.Barbara Brown Taylor, “Physics and Faith: The Luminous Web,” Christian Century, June 2 1999, 612.

Can We Survive this Century?

Well, I know I won’t. I’m 58, it’s 2008, you do the math. But this is a larger, vital, and very (very!) important question which concerns us humans, and untold other species of plants and animals that have arisen through time from the starstuff of earth:

Can we survive this century? Will the year 2100 be noted, observed, or recorded by anyone?

The question will be the subject of an ABC special this coming September- Earth 2100. Scientists from various disciplines will gather together to discuss what might happen, and when, if current population growth and resource consumption continues unabated.

Last summer, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman was published. Weisman interviewed biologists, engineers, geologists, and meteorologists about changes that would occur if, for whatever reason, humans were no longer part of the planetary equation. The result is both fascinating and disturbing- if you’re a human, of course. For most other species*, the possibility of our sudden absence would (if any of them noticed) be the greatest day in the last 1.7 million years!

The deterioration of buildings and infrastructure would begin within days. A Scientific American video- The Earth Without Us, based on Weisman’s book- is an interesting introduction to the phenomena of urbanscapes turning into landscapes. Intriguingly, one of the last recognizable humanly concocted “structures” to exist would be Mount Rushmore.** Four million years from now, barring any direct asteroid hits, George, Abe, Tom, and Teddy will still be staring out through granite eyes, into the Black Hills surrounding them. (Where there once lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon, somewhere there.)

The immediate disappearance of all humans is almost impossible, outside of a cataclysmic planetary event, like a massive asteroid, or a physics experiment gone terribly wrong. But there are numerous possibilities for the gradual but total absence of humans. Chief among them would be a virus, or a new strain of bacteria. Other possibilities- very real ones- would be nuclear fallout after a large scale war, meteorological changes, a series of smaller asteroid hits, or a depletion of resources a la Easter Island, on a global scale. And if anyone thinks that humans are not stupid enough to let the latter happen, keep driving your SUV, or allowing agri-businesses to patent the world’s food supplies, or burning anything we can put a match to.

What will be lost, if humans are? The ability to record what is happening in the world and the universe, great art (paintings will turn to mold), and the inability to warn other species that may evolve into beings that “need” styrofoam about our short-sighted and continuous mistakes.

What would be gained? Consider the lilies of the field, and the birds of the air..

*Animals that are dependent on humans, of course, would not find such an event very fortunate.Most pets would soon die of starvation, as would all zoo animals which were unable to escape. Cattle, most breeds of which have had all speed and most wildness bred out of them, would be the victims of canines- wolves, coyotes, dingoes, and dogs- which would flourish, and some felines, which would make a gradual comeback as well. Pigs, if they could escape their confines, do fairly well, fairly quickly in the wild. Interestingly, roaches living outside of their native tropical environs, would disappear after a year or two of no heated buildings. Mice and rats in former urban areas would also disappear as food supplies dwindled and as raptors- hawks, eagles, and others- began making high rise buildings into dream aviaries.

**Also interestingly, the last artificially lighted city on earth, because of the nearness and automated systems of Hoover Dam’s electrical production, would be..ta-da!..Las Vegas!

The Earth Without Us

A Respite from the Muck and Mire of Fundamentalism

I find the whole subject of fundamentalism tortuous. But I also know that one of the best ways to eradicate bacteria and mold is to expose them to the Light. So I will continue doing that, but I needed a break, and Graciel offered me one today with “What Do You Love?”at her blog, Evenstar Art, which everyone should go read frequently. It’s an antidote for many things. She writes:

“Today, I want you to quiet your monkey-mind. The part of your mind that swings wildly from one illusion to another. From one worry to another. From one judgement to another. I want you to practice focusing the part of your mind that leads you into made-up trouble on something positive. Practice focusing for one minute. Yes, just one minute. I want you to think about what you love. Not who you love. That’s another minute. This minute, I want you to think about what you love. Because it takes a bit of concentration and the monkey-mind must come to a rest while thinking positive thoughts.”

So here is my own one minute (or so) list of things I love:

*the golden finches which devour the sunflower seeds I put out for them this time of year

*the two soaring pines in the neighbor’s yard and the two single-note wind chimes that hang from them

*Wednesday nights

*the vultures at the lake, so crazily beautiful in their bigness and boldness

*sitting outside when the coyotes across the highway begin their howling

*the house in Ohio where I grew up. I walk through it frequently in memory

*Salem and Lola (OK, I’m cheating- they are both who’s to me, but since they are dogs I’m passing them off here as what’s)

*pick a beach, any one where salt water is lapping will do

*van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

*Madonna singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” (Yes, I know, odd. Deal with it.)

*thinking about and writing Sunday messages

*listening to stories that have never been told before


*the Moon, as it rises between those same two pine trees

*reading (again) Matthew 5- 7, and 25; John 1, 14, and 15; Genesis; and Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Revelation (the latter three because it’s just so strange for them to be in the Bible)

Yes, that took me more than a minute. You have my (and, I think, Graciel’s) permission to take more than a minute with your own list, too.

Rumi – Why I love him..

A Teacher’s Pay, by Rumi

God has said Be Moderate with eating and drinking,
but never, Be Satisfied when taking in light.

God offers a teacher the treasures of the world,
and the teacher responds, “To be in love with God

and expect to be paid for it!” A servant wants
to be rewarded for what he does. A lover wants

only to be in love’s presence, that ocean
whose depth will never be known.


I love Rumi. It’s that simple. I know, I know: Join the bandwagon. But there’s a reason bandwagons exist, isn’t there?

There are those men and women who are able to reach far beyond the superficialities of gender, nationality, or even time, and expose that which is in themselves in such a way that it is begun to be revealed in ourselves. We are probably not- not yet– as eloquent as they are about what we have discovered in ourselves, through their courage in writing; but isn’t it thrilling to know that what they have uncovered strikes a chord within us- one that we are able to begin to hear?

I love Rumi because he makes my body sing.

He tells me why I can lose myself in the magenta of a swamp mallow, or in the flight of a heron from one side of the lake to the other. I look up at the sky and know almost nothing about what I’m seeing, but I love looking anyway. And I share that ignorance with everyone at some point in the depths of space- we are all a part of a Mystery whose depth cannot be known, yet we are attracted to it, bound together by our attraction to it, and each other, and all that is.

My curiosity is insatiable. Don’t tell me to put a lid on it or tear away at the edges of it! There is Light there somewhere and what I know is that the Light will lead to more Light, and that it someday will absorb me and on that day I will be a part of the symphony and I, and you, and the swamp mallow, and the heron, and you, too, will resound eternally.

Rumi tells me it’s OK to think that way. I believe him.

Google Earth (and Sky)

Like most people, I’ve looked at the rooftop of every place I’ve ever lived, flown from Texas to Paris a dozen times, and tried to see what my kids were doing in NYC and Boston. Google Earth never ceases to fascinate.

And apparently, it never will. Recently added to the program is the ability to explore the skies. (And you can get it here: google earth (and sky!)) You can choose specific coordinates, a particular planet, star, or region. Or, you can see the sky directly above wherever you happen to be at the moment, as I’ve done in the pictures below:

Here’s where I live. Right in the middle of the picture is a fairly empty block, with a D-shaped driveway. That’s me.


Directly above me, is this:


And deep, deep above me is this. To get there involved flying through what looked to be a snowstorm of other galaxies. But, I made it:


I don’t know much about the sky, but I’m learning. And Google is helping- a lot, from my layman’s point of view. Google is continuing, from my point of view, to “not be evil.”

Credo- part of it, anyway..

This is a comment I made to another blog, Whitticisms. I include it here, because it describes some of my underlying motivations for doing this blog..

When I was a child, I believed food came from my parents, I didn’t care or need to know how. As long as they were alive and able, there might have been no need for me know otherwise.

But I was curious. Grocery stores were the next answer. More curiosity led to farms and ranches, and elaborate transportation systems. Further curiosity took me into plant and animal sciences, and now- at 57, and not a scientist- I see the sources of that food, and all things, in the exploding stars and formations of new galaxies. I am also sure there is more and more to be discovered.

I have heard so many people, and have even collected some recordings from the Creation Institute in Glen Rose, saying they believe in Creationism because “it is easier to believe than evolution.” Indeed it is; in exactly the same way it was easier intellectually to believe that food came from my parents. The frontal lobes of human brains, however, will not allow humans to stop wondering and asking questions. So I kept looking for the origins of food, just as specialists look for other things and, thank God, in the case of the polio virus and other maladies, find them.

Intellectual pursuits can be stopped by religionists who make the imagination and the asking of too many and too deep questions, into sins, in an attempt to “protect” their territories. The Dark Ages of the Church are historical proof of that! They told others that it was vital to believe only what they could see- a flat earth, an earthcentric universe- because that is all the ancients who spoke Creation stories could see. Well, again thank God, not all of their ’subjects’ bought into that nonsense.

I cannot make God fit into my limited abilities to speak of God. Neither could Moses. If I think I can define God by what I know today, let alone what the Hebrews of 1500 BCE knew, then I will either be terribly surprised by new information coming in tomorrow, or I will have to disregard- play dumb- about that information, and take the “easier” route through it.

Bottom line, we are discovering our God to be bigger than it is possible for humans to imagine or write about God. That should not threaten us at all. It should be making us feel the awe that most people are now able to discover and feel only through the work of scientists. Science and spirituality are not separate pursuits; they are both part of the same human consciousness that wonders, “Why?” and “How?”

A New Earth..

These new photographs of Earth, released yesterday by NASA, are the most detailed of our planet to date. Over several months, every kilometer of Earth was photographed by satellite and this, the composite collection of those individual photos, is the result.


Nikos Kazantzakis, writing his prologue to The Odyssey- A Modern Sequel, said this about his home:

Good is this earth, it suits us! Like the global grape it hangs, dear God, in the blue air and sways in the gale, nibbled by all the birds and spirits of the four winds. Come, let’s start nibbling too and so refresh our minds!

Published in 1938, Kazantzakis was not privileged when he wrote this, to have seen the Earth as we have been able to see it, this way. But, he saw it clearly nonetheless. He saw the Life-giving, creating and nurturing Being of the planet in ways that only Early Man and Woman had known it, and that we are, only now, beginning to perceive again.

We are not merely upon this place; we are among the myriad, mysterious, and magnificent results of it. As the fiery gases of the fourteen billion year old Bursting Forth began to cool and coalesce, and as those gases formed in solidifying rotational response to the massive Star burning and pulling at them from ninety-three million miles away; and as that Star poured out on those cooling, swirling gases an inexhaustible river of luminous photons; and as the Earth (without water, or rocks, still without form but never void) absorbed those photons, the atoms of our being, began.

Birthing- the continuous, creating, converging, conflicting, chaotic, and conforming process of Birthing- of all that we are, began. The burning storms of hydrogen, extinguished finally as the rivers of photons were absorbed, were becoming. They were, even in their formlessness, already becoming the volcanoes, oceans, and the granite underpinnings of continents. Already, ten billion years ago, they were becoming the great bacterial, living response of the Earth’s surface to the several mile high blanket of atmosphere of cooled hydrogen which clung to it. Already, the cast off oxygen of the bacterial revolution was seeding the Earth with Labrador Retrievers, Japanese beetles, roses, watermelons, toadstools, and grapes.

The surface of the Earth began and continues to reflect, as it continues to be dependent upon, the Bursting Forth moments of all that was, and is, and all that is becoming. In the grape, the photosynthesized and stored photons of the Sun swell against the contained environment of its peel. It is ours now, and the birds, and the insects, to remove from that grape from its own self-contained and whole existence to become our sustenance, our strength. We, the great inclusive mosaic of all that lives, We burst forth now in wave after wave of Life. From microscopic and unseen organisms in the millions to the great thundering African elephants and the song-singing whales, the Earth responds, births, absorbs, and creates. Behold! Every moment of time is a time of all things becoming new!

We are the observers, the witnesses. We are the poets and scientists, the artists and file clerks that the Universe has birthed, too. Our responsibility, our gift, is to see, hear, and begin (always) to understand where We have been, and where We are. And all of our metaphors, all of our mathematics, all of our sensuality, and all of our technology, returns to this single, shared vision of the global grape, hanging and swaying in the blue air. More than our Home, it is our Being- our skin, our hearts, our minds and our consciousness. It is fragile and mighty, fearsome and flawless, alluring and confounding.

Good is this earth..


The Gospel of Thomas..a reflection

From the Essence of Wisdom, Stephen Mitchell, page 6

The Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is inside you, what you bring forth will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is inside you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.”

I turn the page of The Essence this morning and here is this, a gift perfectly timed, from Mitchell who chose it, Thomas who recorded it, and Jesus who spoke it.

There are things we know, even without questions preceding them. They are things that have been built from the words of 10,000 authors, a thousand conversations, all the music we have ever listened to, every dawn we have ever witnessed, every sadness we have endured, and every single one of the joys that have made us smile, laugh, wonder, anticipate, and be thankful.

They are the things connect me to you, to every person on the planet, and to each part of the universe. They are shaped by the God-image in me; thus, they are unique and how dare I demand that anything about myself be patterned precisely in the Image from which you shine. The Image of God in you is differently shaped, and uniquely yours.

We share so much, given to us in such abundance by the 14 billion year history of the universe. And yet we allow those tiny, tribal traditions- the smallest fraction of who and what we are- to separate us, categorize us, frustrate us, and keep us dying within boundaries that should not, must not, be. We are being destroyed by denying the allure, the attraction, the love between us and all things.

The moon calls to the oceans and the oceans respond. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are on, in these moments, a co-mingling, gravitational collision course, born of their intrinsic nature to be drawn together, in which this part of all-that-is will be recreated and begun new all over again. The cicadas call to each other in the treetops- a billion year old beckoning to reproduce, to continue, to live. Food and water will attract us throughout the day, as will the eight times a minute desire to feel the oxygen aspirated by trees, grass, kelp, and flowers, filling our lungs. We yearn for, desire, need, and want; we are formed for community. It is basic to who we are and how we live and it not something apart from us that we choose. It is vital. The connections between ourselves and everything else, from the Flaming Forth of the universe to the photosynthetic activity of each plant on the planet, from the people close to us whom we most cherish to the smallest dying child in some place so far away we do not even have a name for it, from blue whales to the 10,000 organisms in a teaspoon of soil under our feet; ours was not, cannot be, was never meant to be, a solitary life.

I can sit on that which I know, and say nothing. Or I can dress it up in the binding and too-tight clothing of old traditions, and try to disguise it in more palatable and presentable concoctions. I can continue, as I once was, to be frightened and to let fear constrict the Image of God in me. I can do those things- I am practiced at them- but they will destroy me. I have felt that destruction too many times, and cannot go back to it.

But if I add my small voice to those of the visionaries- the lovers- who saw, knew, and prophesized, and who dared to say that we are all- everyone and everything- parts of a living whole, then I am alive, and I am saved from the hell humans- me among them- have created. I can emulate and even acquire the ravenous ego of a Caesar, or a Hitler- those instructions and those monstrous abilities are imbedded in me, in all of us. Or I can emulate the fearlessness of St. Francis and empty my pride daily on the public square.

I can imitate the robber barons and acquire, seize, and hold, all of that which my intellect and finances will allow me to. It is easy to do so; I will feel safe in doing so, even applauded for doing so. Or I can imitate John Wesley and live a life with the daily intention of dying with no more than that with which I was born.

I can curse the darkness, scream at it, damn it; or, I can learn gratitude in all things like Nelson Mandela, who sat unfairly in the twenty year prime of his life, in a prison cell.

I can do those things and much more; I am capable. Or I can, simply, follow Jesus into a life of connections. And I’m getting better at it,

I think. I hope.

Rilke..a reflection

The Essence of Wisdom, page 4-

Rainer Maria Rilke: “Most people have turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself, at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us.”

I don’t know how so many people can get by during the day and not seem to question anything. Frankly, I admire- a little– those who are able to be satisfied with someone else’s rules; it would probably make life less confusing and a little easier to navigate, to be sure. But, for me, anyway, it wouldn’t be much fun either, and the fun in questioning outweighs (again, for me) the passive acceptance of the ways things are.

I’ve paid a lot of seat belt fines for having that attitude. Why must I wear a seat belt on residential streets where I am driving between 15 and 20 mph? I suspect the reason is municipal revenue raising and fine quotas, rather than concern on the part of any police officer for my personal safety. But that’s one of the practical downsides of always being stubbornly stuck in the questioning mode.

On the upside, I learn a lot of stuff. One example that applies to my profession and which you read about frequently here, is my thinking about the Bible. Agreed, it would be easier for anyone to believe that the various books of the Bible were written with lightening from heaven on a rock, or spoken in God induced trances by the prophets, or dropped, perfectly translated and edited in Zip-lock baggies, onto the desks of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But- for me- all of that would negate human interactions with God and reactions to God over time. And that is what the Bible is an imperfect record of.

Yikes! Imperfect?

Of course. The original languages the Bible were written in are ancient ones. Scholars of biblical translation will always have arguments and make necessary concessions about specific words and phrases. Does a comma go there, or there? And is this a new paragraph, or not? Since there were no grammatical marks in ancient Greek, sometimes it’s just a guess. And what about these verses at the end of Mark, or this 8th chapter of John? (They don’t ‘fit’ their contexts at all and don’t even appear in the oldest manuscripts.)

And speaking of manuscripts. None of these books went from the author to the printer. The New Testament gospels and letters would have been carried around for years before being copied by whoever was nearby that knew how to read and write and was willing to laboriously copy the text onto another vellum or papyrus with a sharpened stick or feather quill. And mistakes were made. All of the oldest copies we have of these books are copies made between 100 and 400 years after the originals were written, and multiple copies of the same passages reveal numerous floating commas, varying breaks in stories, and even additions, or subtractions. The original copyists, after all, were amateurs, recruited to do this work, probably voluntarily. Only several hundred years later did the professional factories of transcribing monks begin to appear, who would continue to do their hand copying at least until the 16th Century when printing presses began to appear. (Each of them manned, I need also to note, by different human typesetters of varying educations and skill levels.)

Most of those grammatical and contextual problems can be dealt with, however. We will never all be in agreement with the exact meaning and ramifications of what is written there, but we can all be in the general ballpark. What causes some to call “Foul!” however, is the question of whether the Bible represents the “complete” knowledge we are intended to have about God. Many say it is. I and many others say it is not.

It would be easier to regard the Bible in the former manner. It would be easier for studying, making conclusions, agreeing with the doctrines of others, and deciding once and for all what the “rules” are if I regarded the Bible as everything I needed to know about God. But I can’t, don’t, and won’t. I cannot pretend I can relate personally or exclusively to the 4000 year old worldview of a nomadic people learning how to cope in a new agricultural economy. I cannot pretend, simply because it’s easier, that God brought the world about in a literal seven day week. That explanation made sense to a people who had no telescopes or microscopes, and who believed that the earth was the center of everything- everything being a big dome over a flat earth, and containing everything, including the stars, within it. But it makes no historical sense to me. (There are theological truths in those stories- and in abundance. But that’s another subject for another day.)

Over the years, various individuals have discovered more about the nature of the earth and universe. Many of them, too, arrived at conclusions which it would have been easier to not have made. Copernicus, then Galileo, initially kept their findings about a sun-centered solar system quiet. Even Einstein later juggled and fudged on some of his initial conclusions about the expansion and movement of the universe- they were hard findings to admit to; it was easier to ignore them in the hopes that they would simply go away or be found to be wrong. They jarred his personal worldview that the universe was finite and contained; they were hard conclusions so, for awhile, he took the easy, and wrong, approach to them- he hid them. (He later, of course, recanted, and said that those actions had been the worst mistake of his life.)

I choose to keep my mind open, all the time, to new information. That’s hard work sometimes and the temptation to retreat into someone else’s orthodoxies is real. But I cannot put a period at the end of any sentence about God. I cannot construct barriers around any set of beliefs because tomorrow there will be new information, new insight, and new light shining on what had formerly been darkness.

None of us want our doctors to restrict themselves to the medical books of the 17th Century. It would be easier for them, certainly, to reach into a bucket of leeches to cure our stomach ache, or to make some cuts on our arms to help fix our headache. At the time, there was a real medical basis for both of those procedures, but now we (and they, thank God) know more.

So I’m stuck. I’m stuck with a God that won’t stay still. I’m stuck with a God that is no longer adequately able to be described only with the metaphors of ancient peoples. I’m stuck with a God who has revealed some attributes and characteristics to me, but has many more for me to discover.

Blame God, if you must find blame for all that. God’s the one who put all those question marks in my mind. I barely made it through college science courses with a C! But as soon as I got serious about God, that old information suddenly took on a life of its own, and it doesn’t give any indication of letting up.

So, I guess I’m stuck.

Hallelujah. (I guess.)

Novalis..a reflection

Page 2, The Essence of Wisdom-

Novalis: “We are close to waking up when we dream that we are dreaming.”

Let’s begin with baby pictures. Here’s one of me, and of you, too:

baby pictures

From the Keck Observatory, photo images were released today of the most distant galaxies ever seen. This is a picture of light from these galaxies which has been traveling at the speed of light for over 13 billion years, which puts these galaxies within 500 million years from the birthplace of the universe.

They really are pictures of the very stuff- the starstuff- of which everything in the universe is composed. Before the stars and the suns, before planets and moons and asteroids, there was rushing, always cooling gases. Collapsing on itself, gathering in on itself in trillions of stars, the gas burned, sending photons (light) into the cosmos. The photons in this picture have been traveling a long, long time.

What follows from this point will offend every person who continues to construct a God crippled by their own human capacity to imagine and believe the data collected by telescopes like Hubble, Keck, and Cassini. Stop reading now, if you don’t want to know about a God who is larger than your doctrines about God.

Really, I’m serious.

As the photons of our star, the Sun,were absorbed by the dust of exploding galaxies and the cooled hydrogen which had become Earth, a new something began to emerge. A life form which consumed the dust, then reproduced, then changed over billions of years into a nucleus centered, cilia propelled bacteria, began to emerge. The by-product of its eating was one of the harshest gases found anywhere in the universe: oxygen. Yet new bacteria adapted even to that poisonous environment. Those bacteria cooperated, became communities of bacteria, became mobile, adapted sensing appendages, and over much much much time became the wiggly, scaly, winged, swimming, flying, crawling, seeing, hearing, many-legged, few-legged things which today fill the earth along with their many and distant cousins, the things that grow from the earth.

To make a very long story a little shorter, and to get more quickly to the quote which began this essay, one day, once upon a time..

One of the animals, (almost certainly a furry one, with a backbone, and probably moving most of the time in a two-legged manner), looked at the hill he was near, or the ground she was standing on, and perceived the hill or the ground to be something that was not a part of themselves. It was “other” and that “other” could be thought about. At that moment, whenever it was, human consciousness began. That animal could think about an object, and know that the thoughts were coming from within itself- not from the wind, or the water, or the food they ate, but from within themselves, somewhere.

It will always be impossible to definitively verbalize the specifics of those first moments of conscious thought, but I find it to be delicious contemplative food! For these were the moments when the frontal lobes of our brains began to develop. Those two halves of our brain in front of the ear and above the eyes, where our abilities to remember, plan, imagine, and think abstractly, now had a reason to expand, and indeed they did! That ancient animal- a bonomo? a chimp? A lemur?- set in motion our human ability to take pictures of 13 billion year old galaxial explosions, and everything else, good and bad, that we do so well. On that ancient of days began the universe’s ability to think about itself.

Us! You, me, and the other 8 billion of our fellow thinkers on earth today- we are the entire universe’s ability to think about and begin to understand itself!

Each person has the occasional opportunity to experience at least a little of what it was like for that first conscious thinker. We relegate our dreams to dry psychological definitions sometimes and miss the substantive and, I think, important insights they can give us about the nature of our consciousness. We swim through our dreams; the persons and objects of our illogical and unable-to-be-controlled consciousness are one with us, very much like water surrounds us when are swimming. They are projections of ourselves into the day’s events, or reflections of our DNA-fueled “memories,” or even our bodily reaction to food we have eaten. Whatever their source, we are “in” them, much as our ancient ancestor was “in” her or his world.

We literally are close to waking up, when our conscious mind begins to interact with our unconscious, dreaming mind. We try to make things we want have happen in our dream, happen; or we try to escape the hole that is opening up in our dream or the dark and hairy something that is gaining on us, but we can’t. And then, the cursed or blessed alarm clock drags us back up into our developed frontal lobes again. Time to get up!

Dreaming about dreaming; feeling and experiencing the awareness of the universe within ourselves; waking up to our abilities to see, hear, and feel more deeply; becoming more fully awake to the encompassing God, who connects us with the stars, the bonomos, and each other in our dreams about dreaming.

Our consciousness.