Letter: Life and Easter

While reading a book this evening, a barely visible insect scooted across the page. It gave me pause. The greatest miracle in the Universe, the mystery of life that energized the dinosaurs and exists yet in the great whales, the elephant, all animals, and we humans, also fully inhabits that minuscule creature. That makes it as significant as any living being that ever roamed this Earth, because God is fully expressed in it. Life is of God, and in some sense is an extension of the Divine. And the book louse possesses that gift, and the respectability that goes with it. It has awareness, and with that, the ability to distinguish what is friendly to its existence, and what constitutes a threat. It has working appendages, and organs that probably circulate fluids and process food. At some point it will unsuccessfully struggle against the forces of “death,” and its indestructible miracle of life will return to its Source, as with us all. A fleeting miracle, darting across a yellowing page. Wow! Many people do not respect life sufficiently, concluding that the human expression of the gift is the only important one–we cite “soul” in our arguments. But we don’t even know if God is done with us yet, or with the Creation itself. Genesis 1 portrays God saying, “Let us make the human family in our likeness.” Has that been achieved? Hardly. That may be God’s intention, but it surely is not yet God’s accomplishment. Perhaps when we humans finally assume the nature of God we no longer will treat life with indifferent whimsy. I could crush that little bug under a finger tip, but I think it imprudent to destroy anything I can not replace. If God were to ask me to restore the louse once I killed it, I would be as unable to do that, as to explain why I did not respect the Divine gift in that particular form. Such ruminations accompany me to the wonder-filled Easter story with unanswered questions and some doubts. And I trust God, even as I befriend my uncertainties.

 

Richard (Dick) Gist

Princeton

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