Sunday, June 15, 2008

SISTER JULIAN AND CREATION

Rain fell during the night, and the air was chilly on the bluff this morning. No place can be as gray as the mountains near Sewanee when the sun disappears. The encompassing fog isn’t cozy; it’s weighty. Mist hovers everywhere, reminding me of a scene in a British screenplay, perhaps the scenery in WUTHERING HEIGHTS or a television re-run of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Trees droop with moisture, bird calls are muted, and spirits could sag were it not for the meditations on the wonders of creation that Sister Julian delivers.

Sister Julian tells us everything that is created is headed toward the fulfillment of its potential, and the way she relates this statement in her gentle, but impassioned way, we have no room for disbelief. The statement reminds me of a reflection from C. S. Lewis’s ANTHOLOGY OF GEORGE MACDONALD, in which MacDonald writes: “For he regards men not as they are merely, but as they shall be; not as they shall be merely, but as they are now growing, or capable of growing, toward that image after which He made them that they might grow to it. Therefore a thousand stages, each in itself all but valueless, are of inestimable worth as the necessary and connected gradations of an infinite progress…”

In contemporary life, “developing human potential” has become a buzz phrase for achieving material and corporate success, but Sister Julian spoke, of course, of the potential in all of us to achieve spiritual fulfillment. She lectured on Creation Spirituality, emphasizing that the beginning and ending of existence is awe. Our assignment for the day was to go into the out-of-doors and be alive with all our senses, to let in the awe. “Let God surprise you,” she added.

Poetry always surprises me because I never know when the Muse will come and sit on my shoulder. This is what surprised me:

SISTER JULIAN AND CREATION
Rain pelted our disbeliefs
but she predicted sunlight,
anticipating more light than we had seen,
smiling to herself at a hoarse cry
outside the window, a rain frog
chanting Noonday Prayers.
She spoke the language of distant stars,
galaxies of potential, the world in a hazel nut,
coaxing us to wonder and awe.
She walked miles ahead of us,
a small figure parting the mist,
enfleshing our vision,
and the rain stopped,
we saw the mountains
greening before us again,
surprised by her predictions of sun,
we admitted the Mystery.
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