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Monday, June 16, 2014

Staying Connected

Trinity Sunday, Yr. A
Genesis 1
The Rev. Betsy Hooper-Rosebrook

Both my sisters from out of town were visiting my mom last week, so I slept at her house on Tuesday night, on the sofa in the living room. When I awoke the next morning, I was looking up the wall beside me into a piece of artwork with a large swarm of butterflies seemingly captured in mid-flight. In the moment between sleeping and waking, that dreamy state in which the mind is set free from the constraints of reason, I envisioned myself in their midst, not a butterfly myself but floating through the air right along with them. This might sound a little weird, but it was a lovely way to start the day, to feel myself fully part of creation, rather than an observer looking at it from a step back.

Since then, I've been mulling over what our lives and our spirituality would be like if we could more often live that way, immersing ourselves in creation as was, I think, God's intention from the beginning, one of the truths reflected in the story of the Garden of Eden. How would our perspective and behaviors change, and how would we see our relationship with God in a broader way? How much more expansively would we see God? Setting ourselves within creation re-connects everything.

If we understand ourselves to be connected, we perceive the world from within. When I do the opposite, distinguishing myself from all that's around me, I'm aware mostly of it's otherness, and as soon as I do that, I start judging: good/bad, beautiful/ugly, worthwhile/useless. But God says again and again that the world is good, so not only is categorizing like that pointless, but it blinds us to that intrinsic beauty. We make a quick evaluation, rather than taking time to find what's already been declared precious and amazing. Perhaps you've seen some of the astounding photographs, taken through high powered microscopes, of seemingly ordinary objects, both living and inanimate; they turn out to be breathtaking and often surprisingly familiar in their composition and structure. I'm pretty sure it's much the same when we take time to see one another up close too, and to allow ourselves to be seen that's so much harder to dismiss each other when we see beyond our behaviors and outward appearances to our breathtaking inner loveliness.

If we understand ourselves to be connected, we're less likely to insulate ourselves from the consequences of our actions. When we acknowledge our inter-relatedness to the world around us, then that piece of litter on the ground, that bottle carelessly tossed in the garbage, that light left on, that wasted food all become our concern. Such little things individually, but our response to each gives us a chance to accept the responsibility of stepping more lightly and wisely. Think what you will about the ban on plastic grocery bags, but for me, it tipped the scales to get me to carry more permanent bags and to open my eyes to all the bread and cereal bags, previously thrown away, that now I'm re-using. Trace that back in the chain, and I'm leaving behind less trash and using less of everything that's required to get that plastic grocery bag into my hands...both of which I believe are good for the earth. God has set us as stewards of creation, not from outside the system but as part of it, and every one of us has many chances and choices to participate productively in the renewal and restoration of creation.

If we understand ourselves to be connected, we immerse ourselves in the joy of the Spirit permeating the world. You know that feeling when a piece of music, a painting or photograph or sculpture, a poem or a novel, an architectural design or an elegant piece of math or computer code--to each his own!--delights and transports you beyond yourself? That's a moment of entering into the dance of the Spirit who gives each of us creative gifts to share and to be appreciated. We can't force those experiences, but we can open ourselves to their possibility and rejoice in our discoveries.

Most especially, if we understand ourselves to be connected to God revealing Godself in creation, then we're deepening our relationship of love with the Creator.  In opening our eyes to all that's around us, we more fully open our eyes to God; as we value all that God treasures, we allow ourselves to be part of that wondrous embrace.

That creating Love, continuously expressed by the Spirit, and perfectly revealed in the Son, is not something or someone we can confine to reason or wholly describe. We have 66 books of the Bible, three creeds, and hundreds of thousands of scholarly pages which try to communicate the essence and nature of God, as well as a long list of heresies sorting out what God isn't...and all those words still only provide glimpses of One who is so much more. They help, because we want to be able to share our experience of God, but they only partially express the fullness of God. God is magnificently larger and intricately more detailed, fabulously fluid and yet absolutely permanent, existing before all time and throughout all time. Believing in God isn't an intellectual exercise; it's our act of connectedness, of trust, of wholeheartedly taking flight with God who loves us.

On this Trinity Sunday, as we celebrate God known to us as the Creator, Restorer, and Sustainer of all life, as the One who invites us into life as full and passionate participants, may we join the song of creation in proclaiming with all love, with all trust, with all joy, "That's good!"

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