For Richard Chiroff
“The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every
town and place where he himself intended to go.”
Luke 10: 1
Several years ago a dear friend and colleague in faith astonished us with the assertion that Dark Energy, that mysterious 70% of the universe that is believed to be the energy that keeps the universe expanding ever outward, is the Holy Spirit. I have spent much of my time since investigating Dark Energy, reading both scientific and theological accounts, listening to reports on the radio, sitting in silent contemplation – and I have come to an awareness that Dick is very probably correct in making that association.
The journey toward an understanding of Dark Energy and the third persona of the Trinity currently finds me reading Judy Cannato’s concise little treatise, Radical Amazement: Contemplative lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas, and other wonders of the universe (Sorin Books, Notre Dame, IN: 2006). Over the past 13.7 billion years (and still counting) Creation has been unfolding, one tiny evolutionary step at a time, a process in which we are certainly important but not the only active participants. Our capacity for self-reflection, however, is what differentiates us from the rest of the time, space, matter, time continuum. Cannato points out that both Julian Huxley and Teilhard de Chardin observed that “human beings are nothing less than evolution become conscious of itself.”
“In us the evolving universe is capable of self-reflection. We are the universe conscious of itself…homo sapiens [wise ones], the ones with the ability to be aware.” p 57
Our consciousness, she points out, is both amazing and demanding, both central and essential to the continual ongoing unfolding of creation, of the universe, of the cosmos, of the mystery that is life.
Demanding in that beginning with the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago, every particle, every atom, every “thing” that has evolved throughout the still expanding space-time continuum of interstellar space, right down to the most basic elements on this Earth are all interconnected – interdependent – in the most cosmic sense, “we are all in this together – people, creatures, rocks, rivers , streams, stars, supernovas, black holes, and of course, all being propelled further on our journey by Dark Energy. For our wholeness, what Christians call salvation, is intricately bound to the wholeness or salvation of all – all in the most radical sense we can imagine that word to include and entail. All. Before we go back to thinking the universe is in any way anthropocentric, remember, the human genome shares 99.9% of the same genetic material as an earth worm! We are all in this together.
There now exists an urgency to utilize our capacity for self-reflection. As a result of our egocentrism, materialism, religious fanaticism, and human ignorance (to name a few), we have spawned political and environmental crises of epic proportions. Our soil, water and air along with our suffering sisters and brothers of all species cry out to us to put our consciousness and self-reflective capacities to work on behalf of All.
“Consider this: you are able to sit and read these words as the result of 13.7 billion years of development. Over the past four billion years, life on Earth has developed from primordial cells that did not even have a nucleus into Homo sapiens. The water in your body contains primordial hydrogen formed in the first seconds of the Big Bang. The carbon atoms that form you came together as a result of the explosion of a supernova. The concentration of salt in your body matches the concentration of salt in the ancient seas. Your cells are direct descendants of unicellular organisms that developed billions of years ago. You have a reptilian brain and are able to walk courtesy of vertebra that developed 510 million years ago. You see because cholorphyll molecules mutated so that, like plant leaves, your eyes can capture the light from the Sun. And in your mother’s womb, your tiny body repeated the whole process of multicellular life on Earth, beginning as a single cell and then developing greater and greater complexity.” p 65
In Luke 10 Jesus sends out seventy on a mission to establish base camps for the Good News – centers for healing, centers for bringing our interconnectedness into awareness – a mission to bring those on the outside of society back into the center. In having evolved into Homo sapiens with the capacity for self-reflection, we have been made the base camps for the ongoing development and expansion of the entire universe, beginning right here on Earth. Jesus, God and Dark Energy are all calling us to be radically amazed at our interconnectedness to all creation, especially to our sister and brother creatures here on Earth. Our soil, water and air along with our suffering sisters and brothers of all species cry out to us to put our consciousness and self-reflective capacities to work on behalf of All.
Cannato concludes that the “how” of creation/evolution and the “why” of Mystery give us an idea of who we are and what we are about. That the radically amazing elements that make us who we are and capable of being the consciousness of the universe is meant to give us the capacity to reflect, to know, and to make choices on behalf of the whole – on behalf of all. We are all one. When will we begin to act as if we know this and believe this? Amen.