The following blog entry is a copy of a short article written for our AweWakenings newsletter.
A couple of years ago I was thinking about life processes, particularly from the perspective of “deep time”—the full thirteen-plus billion year history of our amazing Universe. While studying what was happening throughout that long history, I began to see a pattern in the journey that all life makes.
I had always thought that resurrection was the natural and logical progression from death. The awareness that transformation is (and always has been) an essential and thrilling ingredient of existence was an entirely new concept for me.
Suddenly I recognized the great circle of life: birth leading to life, which leads to death, which is the door into transformation, out of which flares an infinite geography of potentialities. With the selection of one of those rich possibilities, resurrection flares toward the realized experience we call “birth”, which leads to life, which leads to death …
On and on, round and round, the glorious wheel of life spins through time. From grape seeds to galaxies, there is no beginning and no end: the hydrogen that flared into existence shortly after space and time and everything else in the Universe began, has been recycled through supernovae, moons, giraffes, smart weed and me. I don’t look anything like smart weed or a star, but that’s because my perception is limited by the particularity of my species.
I don’t know why it never struck me before, but I found myself feeling the affirmation of Jesus’ own experience. Between the crucifixion and resurrection Jesus experienced transformation—how could I possibly have missed that? I once thought of the “harrowing of hell” as a job Jesus had to do; but what if our scripture is the best effort of Jesus’ followers to report their understanding of a process Jesus had to experience? And what about the inability of Jesus’ friends to recognize the resurrected Christ? Surely he was transformed—the same, and yet not at all the same.
Transformation does occur within the capability of our human senses, but I think we see the process so often we don’t particularly notice it. When we do, we take it in as “ordinary” rather than as the sacred miracle it reflects.
A maple tree seed flutters to the ground and lands in a pile of leaves, which mix with the soil and rain to bury the seed in protective mulch. Over the winter the seed appears dead, but the promise of a tree stirs in that “dead” matter, and when that promise awakens to the call of sun and spring thaw, a tiny green shoot struggles through the soil. There under our foot is proof that transformation has occurred.
Every child born is entirely new and entirely unique thanks to Mystery and the miracle of transformation. Yet every child born is made from star dust that has witnessed the unfolding of the Universe for billions of years.
We live in an essentially transformative Universe, constantly manifesting reflections of the Divine Mystery that comprehends and brings into existence something new every moment. From a scientific perspective most of our Universe, from quarks to quasars, is not matter at all but a “fecund nothingness”, a soup of creative energy out of which particles appear and disappear as if by magic. The way I see it, the vast majority of our Universe is occupied by transformation in action.
I have barely begun to understand the science of the stupendous transformation process, but I readily accept that the creative nature of God floods us with its glory, and that we are made from the Mystery that dreamed an entire Universe into being and set its circle of life spinning through time. Whether we are mystified by quantum physics or awed by the birth of a child, transformation weaves its magic from under our noses to the far reaches of the Universe.
How could anything so marvelous and miraculous and seemingly impossible as transformation escape our notice, our reverence, our respect, our praise?