by Gwin Pratt
The Rev. Gwin Pratt serves on the board of MNIPL and previously served as St Luke Presbyterian Senior Pastor. We at MNIPL are honored to share Gwin's writing with you.
Bill Bryson’s 2003 book, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” contains some pretty amazing facts. Perhaps you’ve read it? His stated aim is to “ talk about how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and how a little of that something turned into us, and also some of what happened in between and since.” The book, then, intends to expose us to the wonder and mystery of creation, as seen through the eyes of science. And while he, of course, comes up short in his goal (“everything” after all surely defines the term “aspirational goal”), he does give us a fascinating panoramic view of the work of science and its discoveries about the Universe, and Earth’s place in it.
In the book, for instance, we learn about the Big Bang, supernovae, Isaac Newton, Madame Currie, Charles Darwin, and so much more.
And, we learn about “atoms.”
He is talking about “atoms,” and their properties. He says:
“They are unimaginably numerous: a section of air the size of a sugar cube contains 90 billion billion atoms!“
But, they are also profoundly durable.
To illustrate, he writes:
“Atoms really get around. Every atom you possess…has passed through several stars on the way to becoming you. We are each so ….vigorously recycled at death that a billion of our atoms….(in you and in me)…once belonged to Shakespeare. A billion more to Buddha…and any other historical figure you care to name.”
“And any other historical figure.”
In you, in me, right now, there percolates a billion atoms that were in the Buddha, the Prophet, the Christ.
And not only in them, but in the mastodon, too, and the ancient cedars of Lebanon. It is not poetic license, but scientific fact, to say that we are One with all of Creation. From the Big Bang till now, we all belong to each other.
I am enjoying writing this blog. Thank you for reading it. It is my hope that I will be able to share a variety of ideas with you, words that will keep your interest, perhaps be entertaining, and be helpful in our common work of the healing of Earth.
But, while I will strive for a variety that will keep you guessing, behind each blog will always be the same theme: That the Divine cannot be excised out of the Creation. That it is not possible to speak of God/Yahweh/Allah as somehow separate from the created order. That there is a pervasive and unrelenting Oneness that gathers us all up into a Holy interconnected and inseparable existence that forever will claim us as a part, as a member, as a beloved, and yes, as Holy.
And that, the “us” that is gathered up extends to ALL of Creation.
In Larry Rasmussen’s wonderful book, “Earth Honoring Faith”, there is this story.
In 1990, Thailand Buddhist monk Pharkru Pitak, and his neighbors, were despairing of deforestation that was creating soil erosion, thus ending viable farming, and breaking up families who had to move to the city to work.
So, Pitak wrapped the big old trees -the ones most desired by the timber companies- in saffron robes, ritually investing them with the status of Buddhist monks. He ordained the trees!
A local village authority proclaimed that “cutting down an ordained tree produced the same karmic demerit as killing a monk”! The village rose up and prevented the trees from being cut down!
Here’s an idea.
As a clergy of one of the world’s religions, I invoke my authority, and hereby invite you to count this blog….
..as your ordination.
You, gentle listener, along with the goldfinch, the white apple blossom, the blue eyed Husky, the dark granite rock rising out of Gitchigumi, we are all ordained, counted as Holy, and sent out to embrace Creation.