Of late I have been thinking quite a bit about being alive. A group of young women I have been journeying with have recently started reading a book on sexuality, whose first chapter takes us through the cosmic origins of human love. 13.8 billion years ago, most scientists agree, the universe was born in an immense explosion of creative energy – a phenomenon we call the Big Bang. In the time that passed, stars came into being, matter cooled to form planets, and after an immensely long time, life began on the planet we know as Earth: the first single cells, the ancient sea plants, eventually animals, and then the early humans. You might be surprised to know that, if we used a calendar month to represent all the time that has passed since the moment of creation, the entire history of human civilisation as we know it can be compressed into the last minute of the last day.
Our lives are but the blink of an eye on this cosmic scale. And yet how unfathomably wonderful it is that it has taken all of this time and all of the twists and turns in the evolutionary journey of the universe, just to produce – me! I have in me a spark of the original fire – God’s fire – present in and from that first creative burst. I am light from Light, fire from Fire, love from Love.
The account of creation in Genesis 2:7 says: Yahweh God shaped man from the soil of the ground and blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being.
This becomes so much more poignant in light of the cosmic story. I am shaped by God from the matter of the universe. I am made of the dust of stars, the soil of the earth, the sunlight and water, plants and sea creatures, and all the generations of humanity that walked the earth before me. How incredibly amazing it is that I am alive!
When I was a child, I would, on rare occasions, lying in bed, suddenly become aware that I was alive. I would go still as the gentle wave of awareness and wonder crept over me, and just as quickly was gone again.
Nowadays, that epiphany is still as elusive – if not more so. I sit here listening to the rain tapping on the roof, while all of my doubts and questions and insecurities swirl inside me, in a storm that threatens to make me lose what tenuous hold I have on the present moment. I see and yet I don’t see.
O God of creation and evolution, help me to understand… to really live my “one wild and precious life”!