Thursday, December 4, 2008

Madeleine L'Engle ponders the wonder of the universe...and God's love for us

WATCH FOR THE LIGHT. Throughout Advent, I'm reading Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. It contains writings from some of my favorite spiritual writers and activists--Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Henri Nouwen, etc. I'm reading from a library copy I've checked out, but because it's so rich in insight, it's on my Christmas wish list. Watch for the Light has an extended reading each day of A from a different writer.

THE GLORIOUS IMPOSSIBLE. Today's reflection is by Madeleine L'Engle. L'Engle's well-known as a fiction and fantasy writer (A Wrinkle In Time). One of my favorites by L'Engle is The Glorious Impossible, illustrated with colorful frescoes from the Scrovengi Chapel by Giotto. The Glorious Impossible is an excellent Christmas gift (thanks for my copy, Bill Trimble!).

In her reflection in Watch for the Light, L'Engle puts creation, the Incarnation and our place in this universe into perspective. The following is little excerpt drawn from the heart of her piece. Think about this next time you're out at night and see the stars across the vast sky.
I look at the stars and wonder. How old is the universe? All kinds of
estimates have been made and, as far as we can tell, not one is accurate. All we
know is that once upon a time or, rather, once before time, Christ called
everything into being in a great breath of creativity - waters, land, green
growing things, birds and beasts, and finally human creatures - the beginning,
the genesis, not in ordinary Earth days; the Bible makes it quite clear that
God's time is different from our time. A thousand years for us is no more than
the blink of an eye to God. But in God's good time the universe came into being,
opening up from a tiny flower of nothingness to great clouds of hydrogen gas to
swirling galaxies. In God's good time came solar systems and planets and
ultimately this planet on which I stand on this autumn evening as the Earth
makes its graceful dance around the sun. It takes one Earth day, one Earth
night, to make a full turn, part of the intricate pattern of the universe. And
God called it good, very good.

A sky full of God's children! Each galaxy, each star, each living creature,
every particle and subatomic particle of creation, we are all children of the
Maker. From a subatomic particle with a life span of a few seconds, to a galaxy
with a life span of billions of years, to us human creatures somewhere in the
middle in size and age, we are made in God's image, male and female, and we are,
as Christ promised us, God's children by adoption and grace.

Children of God, made in God's image. How? Genesis gives no explanations,
but we do know instinctively that it is not a physical image. God's explanation
is to send Jesus, the incarnate One, God enfleshed. Don't try to explain the
Incarnation to me! It is further from being explainable than the furthest star
in the furthest galaxy. It is love, God's limitless love enfleshing that love
into the form of a human being, Jesus, the Christ, fully human and fully

I welcome your comments and/or questions in the spirit of dialog. Share yours by clicking on "comments" just below. They're moderated only to reduce incivility. Shalom!

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