Paying Attention Bill McDonald’s
March 2021 - Volume 21, No. 3
I heard a ‘yes’ from somewhere - I don’t know where it came from or what it means. What do I do now? I’m not used to hearing voices from out of nowhere - except once in awhile out of nowhere I’ll hear my name being called. I probably should respond by saying “thank you”, but somehow I’m more confused or frightened than grateful. Maybe it came from someone approving more credit that I wish I didn’t need. Maybe it comes from an executioner. Or maybe a potential lover. When there’s a ‘yes’ isn’t there somewhere also a ‘no’ maybe hiding just around a corner?
Then, as I began to calm myself, it occurred to me that perhaps this it was in response to a question I’ve been asking. Of course, that must be it! I’d been recently asking “How will we know where to go from here” - ‘here’ being in the Covid crisis. And all I get is this “Yes.”Not an answer with the tone of a preceding question. It’s just a declarative, a yes meant as a single word and perhaps final…. just a period after it.
Albert Einstein is quoted, “The most important question a person can ask is, "Is the Universe a friendly place?”
Maybe I just heard the answer. Or maybe I just hallucinated. Maybe Einstein was hallucinating. Come to think of it, he just gave us the question - not the answer. And maybe that’s the point - asking the question in the (real-world) human universe is more important than coming up with the answer. (At least after graduating from high school, or college, or graduate school, or whatever those certificates on my office wall want to attest.)
God - Speaks the world into existence with a “Yes”
From within my own Judaeo-Christian tradition, and peering into various translations of the Book of Genesis, I find this narrative: When God the Creator looked around there was only a “formless void”- nothing of any use for anything or anybody.
Then began a pattern of creation, chunked down into seven parts, or days and nights. Each chunk began with God doing something, ‘speaking’ a portion of creation into existence. And at the end of each ‘day’ God ‘saw’ what had been accomplished and spoke approval, saying “Yes.” Six chunks of work, and a day of rest, ending with a “Yes” that blessed the entire process.
Oh, would that the narrative (and reality) could stop there!
And, Oh that the word that I heard could bless everything into an eternal wonderfulness.
One more Feature of God’s Creation - the Gift of Free Will
As the Genesis Creation narrative continues - God seals the work by giving Man and Woman to be like himself - having the freedom to choose our own destiny, or as otherwise stated, the gift (and curse) of free will. The narrative now leads to First Man (Adam) and First Woman (Eve) in The Garden (Paradise) and a test. Oh yes, that apple tree. And we “fell” for it.
Now we realize the narrative is about us. Now we can recognize it’s our story. We know the exclusion from Paradise. We know hard work. We know the suffering and confusion of relationship hunger. We know the inner weavings of life with death - within ourselves and in those we meet on the road.
The Yes that cannot turn back on itself.
The narrative of God creating is of a “Yes” that cannot turn back on itself. And is fully willing to only go forward with it’s own Yes.
What I like about this is that each of us doesn’t have to ‘believe’ anything. It’s a yes that’s built into the very fabric of existence, of creation.
As if God’s approval, love, mercy, very essence… cannot deny itself.
Yes, Albert. The Universe is friendly. It cannot be otherwise. Maybe that’s what I heard.
Maybe it’s now up to me to decide what to do with it.
According to the Holy Narrative, back in the formless useless meaningless mists before time, that’s what God did with it.
I’ve long been fascinated with similar patterns emerging from the creation narratives of many other cultures.
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