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origin stories

last night i listened to Brene´ Brown and Fr. Richard Rohr on her podcast, Unlocking Us. Fr. Richard’s point about our understanding of God as vulnerable–in addition to almighty–struck a chord.

today, i worked with a team on a zine focused on the Genesis creation story. the theme is around “who is my neighbor?” and we’ve decided to look at this creation story to consider what it teaches us about being part of creation, and being in relationship. returning to origin stories offer insight and wisdom into both the truth of who we are and how these truths decay and rot and can ultimately lead us astray. and then, back again.

John Phillip Newell’s The Book of Creation is serving as both a source of inspiration and a framework, moving day by day through the creation story. Newell’s Celtic wisdom offers a lens through which to encounter the story. it’s juicy.

as i was working on this (beginning with Day One: The Light of God), i noticed constriction when i came across this passage:

“The Celtic poet Kenneth White, known for his earth-related writings, or what he calls ‘geopoetics’, speaks of the ‘whiteness’ that is at the core of reality. It is a whiteness written in creation ‘like birch bark’, he says, or ‘like wave crest’. It glistens in the life of the earth and sea and skies. We may lose sight of it, or cut ourselves off from it, to the extent that we cease to believe that it is there, yet the light continues to shine. It is the ‘fire-body’ from which all life proceeds.”

holding whiteness in such a divine way elicited strong emotions, bumping against whiteness as has been handed down thanks to white supremacy. the reading felt clean, with no implications of supremacy or domination…it felt true. and…i had to sit with it. it was so different. i was suspect. and trusting. at once.

the text goes on–as if sensing exactly what was happening in my body:

“The light of the first day is an invisible ‘fiery power’, says Eriugena. From that inaccessible light of God all life comes forth, whether that be the morning light of the burning sun, the yellow brilliance of a sunflower growing from the dark ground or the glow of a starfish emerging in the depths of the sea. It is the light within all life, or, as George MacLeod says, the ‘Sun behind all suns’. Our eyes cannot see it, nor can human thought nor imagination grasp it. Contemplating the light that is at the heart of life takes us ‘beyond signs’, says White: into the light that is not the sun. Here, we are led towards what Eriugena calls the ‘darkness’ or unknowableness of God’s light.”


whiteness and darkness, together, as the light.

it goes on to speak of the “Divine Dark” and to nuance Western traditions around “light”.

this brought to mind a quote from John O’Donohue that i discovered some years ago:

“We desperately need a new and gentle light where the soul can shelter and reveal its ancient belonging. We need a light that has retained its kinship with the darkness. For we are the sons and the daughters of the darkness and the light.” –John O’Donohue

expanding the understanding of God’s Light–the first utterance of the divine in life–to include light/darkness is to embrace our own humanity/divinity; visibility/invisibility; knowing/unknowing. it is to include it all in our experience of Life.

and there, is an invitation to relax into our Self. just as we are, now. with the faith there is no where else to be, no one else to be, ever.

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