September 1, 2011

Creation - the first book of prayer

Creation is the first book of Christian prayer, a book in which the outlines of the face of Christ can begin to impress themselves on the heart.  In this book, we read God's love in things visible and invisible - a love that is once revealed and hidden, a love which in the fullness of time became flesh.  Christ reveals the glory of God in nature because by Him all things were made.

Creatures are formed by the Word in a kind of sacred harmony.  The harmony of creation mediates truth -- the truth about God.  Ancient Christian thinkers marveled at how in the very multiplicity of created things there is constantly revealed in ever new ways the divine simplicity from which they issue.   At each moment, the fragile passing beauty of created things echoes, in no matter how faint a manner, divine glory.  Even the first primal light by gentle whisper into chaotic dark emptiness is beget in glory, the glory of eternal love.  With that first light and all the other works which continue to issue from the Word resounding in the silences of creation, at any given moment, flashes of overwhelming love imbued glory can peek through to wound our heart, to beckon us to something more than this world knows.

This is why St. John of the Cross calls creation a messenger of God, a messenger that speaks of the One who yearns for us and awaits us in love.  Though the message of creation is easily forgotten - it wounds only lightly - it pierces us all the same, pricking our hearts in gentle and healing ways.  How captivating to ponder how creation can be God's messenger precisely because it is not God: what was fashioned merely fragile and passing can point to something wholly other than itself precisely because the One who is love created it by love to manifest inexhaustible and manifold divine splendors of love whose specific dynamism would otherwise remain wholly hidden.  Such manifestations of love beget love if only for a moment.  Sometimes when it is hard to pray a moment is all we need.