Monday, January 16, 2012

the song of all creation

i wish i were a better listener. if i were, i could hear he song of all creation where ever i might be. but since i listen poorly, i have left the coziness of my little cell in the ozarks, where the song of the sea is captured in layers of limestone, for the newer shores of the pacific northwest, where the ocean beats still incessantly against the rock.

i love that in greek the nicene creed speaks of the father as the ποιητὴν, the poet, of heaven and earth. i never really came to appreciate all that meant until i spent several years mostly in a small kayak, bouncing on the rhythyms of the waves. there is a basic beat under it all, a beat that is perhaps best understood in the notion that john the beloved disciple 'listened to the heartbeat of god'. j. philip newell has a wonderful book with that title, which i recommend.* but out on the face of the deep, the waves often seem much more complicated than that. rhythym piles up on rhythym, and sometimes it all seems very violent. i well remember one noon off point wilson, where the pacific ocean has to decide whether to north to vancouver or south to seattle, and fights about it, that i thought 'this is a good day to die'. but instead, i just rested in the waves and recognized that there was a pattern, even if i did not see all of it, and that i did not need to see all of it. but to fight it would have meant almost certainly a cold death.

it is because of that experience, particularly, that i am always interested in people who see the world in terms of waves. particles are fine, in their place, but it is the waves that seem to make their places. so, poems such as psalm 96, 'o sing unto the lord a new song; sing unto the lord all the whole earth' seems to me not so much a call to write new music but to listen to the new song that the holy one continues to write, so that we may 'learn it by ear'.

it was this joy in the song of creation that made me happy to find an essay by frank a. mills about the song underlying creation in his understanding of celtic creation, so happy i thought i should share it.**