“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8: 22 NIV version
I like to think about creation as orderly, seasonal, dependable, nurturing, restorative, beautiful. This is something I appreciate from my understanding of the Celtic Seasons of the Year. This past week, however, creation has seemed to be anything but orderly. Two historically powerful hurricanes roared out of the South Atlantic Ocean wreaking havoc in their path; rainfall measured in feet seemed obscenely misplaced as wildfires raged elsewhere in our country; in Denver, we were confined to our homes for days, by smoke as thick as heavy fog; in Mexico, the earth shook once again with great fury. Lives were devastated. These are the times when skeptics ask the perennial question: “How could God allow this to happen?” “Where is God?” We don’t just ask this question at times like this week. It is the question that inevitably comes to mind when we hear words like “cancer”, “bankruptcy”, “homelessness”, “suicide”, and “fatal accident”. Even as I try to quickly banish such a thought it still hovers around.
Watching the raging storms on television I could only recall the second verse of Genesis: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep (Hebrew: chaos), and the Spirit of God (Hebrew: storm, wind, breath) was hovering over the waters”. There was nothing but order in those storms. They were well formed, well fed and very predictable. To me, I was watching the same terrifyingly awesome power that moved over the deep, separating the waters from the dry land: the same force that continues to direct creation today. A concept of God I prefer not to think about very often.
I was not looking for easy answers when I asked my spiritual friends for their thoughts. Little phrases of scripture came to mind. In context, they may have another meaning, but alone they seemed to provide some answers. We recalled Paul’s reminder that creation is laboring still. Life comes out of chaos. For those who seek direction from holy scripture, God has been in control of chaos from the start. The Celts believed that God is in us, not outside of us. Seeking God, we first look inside. Finding peace in self we will begin to look for connectedness to the rest of creation. After a volcano erupts, wildfires rage, floods devastate, the earth is forever changed, but new life almost immediately begins. First responders carrying God within begin to restore the new order. Knowing nothing will ever be the same again, people move away or stay, children return to school, life begins anew. Again, God breathes over chaos. And in the words of the 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich, who lived in another desperate time: “All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well”.
Ann Dolbier is a friend and supporter of Celtic Way.