Pastoral Ponderings: Looking at beginnings

Every beginning moment is magical, trust it. In this week’s column

Robin King

Pastoral Ponderings

“And suddenly you know: it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

That sounds hip and cool and contemporary, but it’s a hip and cool and contemporary translation of something written by Meister Eckhart (c.1260 – c.1328), a medieval theologian and mystic. He was a monk who got into trouble with the church authorities for being unorthodox. I like him.

It seems like that’s a good quote for September. Things are beginning. School, new seasons of activities (sports and cultural), the fall is here (or straight to winter, depending on who you believe), people are back at work after holidays.

Oh, yes, that’s worth remembering, isn’t it? These new beginnings come about because something ended: the summer, holidays, a “break.” Whatever you want to call it, that time’s ending so that new things can begin.

So what was before the first beginning?

No, really. Whether you think scientifically and go with The Big Bang or whatever theory or you believe Genesis – either as myth/metaphor or the real deal – what was before that? Let’s consider the Genesis story.

“In the beginning” God created, Genesis says, over a period of six days in a very orderly fashion everything we can see and touch, including us, and more. One could readily answer – and the church has – that God created from nothing because God is God. Okay, but that still doesn’t answer the question because there wasn’t nothing: there was God.

Genesis isn’t the only “in the beginning” in the bible. The Gospel of John begins “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. And the Word was God … Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all.” (John 1:1-4) John doesn’t just say there was God, John says that in God was life. I like that.

I like that because I think before the first ever beginning, there wasn’t an ending, there was an “always.” The Always is God – the love, the grace, the energy, the life, all the things that we round up into that name, God. The Always. Like that story in Exodus when Moses asks God what God should be called (people will ask, you know) and God says to tell them “I AM” has sent him. God simply is, always and ever.

The really cool thing about the Genesis story is that The Always creates, and by doing so, puts a little of the heart of The Always into everything that is created. God is in all things, including us. Jesus, John says, is the truest incarnation of that, “the Word made flesh.” To me, that means that Jesus truly can be our example of how we can live fully because, as Genesis says, we are created in God’s image. Not only is there a little of the heart of The Always in us, we, too, are creators when we put a little bit of our heart into creating. That is how intimate our relationship is with all creation. And with God.

Thing is, though, we experience life as linear in time. We think that, as time passes, memories fade and experiences diminish. But what if we consider The Always within us that’s always creating. That means those things aren’t diminished, rather our life expands around them. We are more with every moment.

So what’s the point? Every moment holds the potential of a creative burst of life. I’ll call it God, or maybe, like Meister Ekhart, it’s the magic of beginnings. Either way, trust it.

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