As a child my parents told me not to take more on my plate than I could eat. When I did, I dawdled at our table after everyone left, expected to finish my meal. I won’t make that mistake tomorrow as we celebrate Thanksgiving in America.
I’m aware of a similar dynamic as I have paused reading The Tao of Physics. Not only the science got a little too detailed for me, but the God in the details got too large, too impersonal and even frightening, more than I could “eat”! My bookmark with excerpts from Psalm 139 kept tempting me to abandon God’s incarnation in reality to welcome God’s intimate presence, “you who formed my inmost being, knit me together in my mother’s womb.” “Comfort food” theology, so to speak.
Maybe that’s why the ancient Hebrews chose to follow one God out of the pantheon of gods polytheism offered. Maybe that’s why the first Christians chose to follow Jesus out of the panoply of prophetic voices in Judaism. It was a matter of focus, a matter of admitting, in the words of Psalm 131:
My heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
I am now contemplating the Psalms in the 130’s, their uplifting poetry a pleasant contrast to dispassionately documented subatomic and cosmic interactions, though still filled with “signs and wonders” (Ps 135:9). I’ve been yearning to walk naked with God in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden, or to share “the sympathizing tear” with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
This coming Sunday is traditionally the end of the Christian calendar, “Christ the King” Sunday, when Jesus is celebrated and elevated as sovereign of the universe. By the following Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, we once again await his nativity, a baby born in a barn. Thus I’m following a pattern, perhaps, of being overwhelmed theologically and then discerning divinity in something tiny as an infant. God is indeed in the small things.
The Tao of Physics informed me, in the words of astronomer Fred Hoyle:
Present-day developments in cosmology are coming to suggest rather insistently that everyday conditions could not persist but for the distant parts of the Universe, that all our ideas of space and geometry would become entirely invalid if the distant parts of the Universe were taken away. Our everyday experience even down to the smallest details seems to be so closely integrated to the grand-scale features of the Universe that it is well-nigh impossible to contemplate the two being separated. [p 195-6]
And, addressing Yahweh, Psalm 138:3 reminds me:
On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.
I once wrote a piece entitled “Advent Is a Time to Look for a Star.” It should not surprise us that the star of Bethlehem may portend an answer to a prayer like the psalmist’s.
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