For a change, today I want to share a beautiful bit of prose with you, written by Margaret Silf (and published with her kind permission) in the hope that it might speak to you as it spoke to me. It’s her take on the creation story, from her book “Sacred Spaces: Stations on a Celtic Way”.
The created world was in its infancy. Nothing was growing. Evolution had not yet begun. There was no rain falling from above, but there was a spring of water coming up from the depths, from the bedrock. This was the water that flowed out over the earth to set in motion the whole pageant of creation. The elements, those basic building blocks of creation, were all present in the first crescendo of fire that we call the Big Bang. They were present in the earth. God took this earth, these same basic elements, and wove them into the fabric of life. These same elements from interstellar space became the elements of the human body. The same energy that had set the process of creation in motion became the breath of life, and the desire for growth that animates every living thing.
From these two sources, the elements of the earth and the living stream of water, life evolved, and the breath of desire flowed through it all and made it live!
It was the garden of original wholeness, and in that wholeness all living things were in bedrock union with the source of their being, whom they called God. They walked with him in the garden of creation. They experienced his constant blessing. They knew how deeply they were interconnected with each other, being formed of the same elements as the earth itself, and animated by the energies of creation. They talked freely with God. Their dialogue was unbroken. There were no power cuts, because they lived and moved and had their being within the source of all power. Their centre of gravity was undivided. Their conscious and unconscious selves were one in that deep centre.
Until a new presence entwined itself into their hearts. An unseen voice. The voice of suggestion. The voice suggested this: “You could be an island, with your own autonomy. There would be less for you to rule, but of that less, you would be absolute ruler. In your own little world, you could be God. Your kingdom would be yours to control. You would be in charge of your own centre of gravity. If you pluck this suggestion down and take it into yourself, your whole view of the world, and your whole understanding of your place in it will change, and you will see that you, not God, are at the centre of your world.”
And they plucked the tempting fruit of this suggestion. And they took it in. Or rather, they were taken in by it. And the inner voice was right. Their entire view of creation changed. Their whole understanding of the world changed gear. They felt as if they were being raised to the level of God. But actually, they were being raised from the bedrock of reality, to the shifting surface view of life. From then on, all they could see were the islands of each other. They forgot that once they had lived in bedrock and known each other, and all creation, in its wholeness.
They rarely saw God after that, because their vision was focused on themselves. They rarely heard him, because their own ears were tuned only to the narrow frequency of their own music. They thought he had banished them from the bedrock union. But in fact they had banished themselves. A barrier came down between all living things and the source from which they sprang. It was like a fiery, flashing sword, dividing them from themselves, dividing them from the very ground of their being.
In the new kingdom of their ego-selves, they discovered they had to fight for survival. This wasn’t surprising because, after all, every living thing had become its own island kingdom, and every little kingdom had to struggle to keep itself alive and to guard its boundaries against the demands of all the others. From then on, two acorns falling from the same oak tree were in competition for the same patch of earth. Two brothers born of the same parents were in competition for the same piece of land. Conflict began. Violence, suffering and death followed on its heels. God’s Dream, which had once been the Deep Dream of every living creature, had become fragmented into a million little hopes and fears. God’s Desire, expressed in original wholeness, had been broken into a million little personalised wants and wishes.
Yet God kept on weaving his Dream. He made tunics of skins for his fallen creatures, to protect them from the worst effects of their choices. Above all, he spread a shelter over them, called death, not to punish them, but to ensure that their brokenness should not go on for ever. And he kept on weaving…