“The forgoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we through their eyes. Why should we not also enjoy an original relation to the universe?” – Ralph W. Emerson
A few years ago, while I was in Minnesota, , I attended at lecture/presentation by Dr. Brian Swimme at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.
He is a well known cosmologist or an astrophysicist whose special area of study is on the origin of the universe, and ultimately life itself. He was sponsored by the Continuum Center of Minneapolis, an interfaith educational center that focuses on providing information on how science and spirituality, health and education can come together to inform, instruct and enlighten us.
Swimme is a well known person for me, having read his books and watched his video series on cosmic origins and how they impact our human understanding of the universe and our place within it. (The Universe is a Green Dragon, The Universe Story, the Canticle of the Cosmos are among his works) He is a former member of the Institute for Studies in Creation Spirituality which is an inclusive, interfaith approach that has become my personal home base for my understanding of spirituality, ministry, and panentheism.
In his lecture, he made certain observations that might be applied cogently to the nature of human groups as much as it might be applied to clusters of stars and the swirls of the galaxies. Among his observations were these:
When the efforts of your actions are other than your intentions, then you are ready for transformation …
Small solutions or conservative responses to problem solving are not ultimately helpful; they might be comfortable, expedient, but they are not ultimately transformative….
The universe exists as shimmering disequalibrium- in a constant state of dynamism, alchemy and change- stasis or clinging to the past, trying to avoid growth or change is ultimately useless at best, and often becomes self-destructive. We try in vain to live as if we were in anthropocentric, geocentric world – so that we can feed the illusion of control, and so we can continue to see the earth and its resources in an exploitative self-centered or capitalistic way. Whereas, what we need to claim and affirm is that we live together in a relational universe that is pneumocentric. That we live in a Spirit-centered cosmos where our awareness of our intimate and ultimate connections form our sustaining relationships, and that it is only through affirming and adopting an outlook of comprehensive compassion that our world and our lives find their purpose and meaning.
Theodore Parker, in the 19th century, saw these cosmological spiritual connection long before the scientific theories were understood. He frames his out look in these words: ”
The fullness of the divine energy flows inexhaustibly into the crystal of the rock, the juices of the plant, the splendor of the stars, the life of Bee and Behemoth.” While this might seem a strange and far afield topic, I find that it is a compelling one. Just as I spoke last week about the status of chaos or crisis in one’s life or in the life of a church as being a dynamic, even gracious one, so too does it parallel the dynamic and gracious work of the cosmos…. And I feel that they mirror themselves accurately.
In short, I believe the future, 2012 and beyond, will be our dynamic time dedicated to understanding and then transforming the chaos, and emerging from crisis to opportunity- in short, to build a world fit for our evolution and our habitation- a place for our bodies, minds, and spirits to create a communities and a congregations of mutual respect and caring.