Creation story

Only in silence the word, Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life: Bright the hawk’s flight On the empty sky.

—The Creation of Éa

― Ursula K. Le Guin

Part 1

No one saw how it began.

Before (if it was a before), there was neither non-existence nor existence, time nor space. We can still see the traces, the echoes, of when time and space became, in a sudden outpouring from emptiness.

No one saw the energy cool and coalesce into particles, into clumps, no one felt the heat from the first stars, no one was around as the planets spun into their orbits, rocks cooled and cracked, volcanoes poured forth toxic gases, lighting bolts and snowball comets struck the earth. Complexity arose, self-organised, forms diversified – life began.

There was birth, so we are told, and death, eating and being eaten, growth and competition, new shapes arose and passed, all was transformation and movement. But there was no beauty, no joy, no pain, no terror, no loving, no desire.

Much was destroyed. There were great dyings: photosynthetic bacteria began to pour out oxygen which poisoned the air; a passing asteroid crashed and destroyed most of life. But always new forms arose and took their place, armoured fish and giant tree ferns, trilobites and ammonites, flowering plants and dinosaurs. The traces they left are things of wonder. But there was no one then to see, to marvel.

Part 2

One day we, the human people, woke up and suddenly we saw ourselves!

How that happened I don’t know. Some say that overflowing Love itself split apart, a shower of sparks from the ground of being tumbled into the world, and lodged in our human hearts.

Others say that a woman plucked and ate an apple, and with the first taste, her eyes were opened! Or that a smouldering ember was stolen in a fennel stalk; or that a father gave one eye to drink from a well at the foot of an ash tree.

However it happened, we humans, terrible and wonderful, became aware of our separate existence, we saw other radiant beings who looked like us! We felt joy and desire, we saw the world around and were moved by its beauty. We swam naked in icy rivers, sang in the forests, told stories round the fire, lay on the the mountaintop and watched the stars.

We saw flowers appear on the earth, it was a time of singing. We heard the voice of the turtle-dove, feasted with our lovers in the garden on choicest fruits and honeycombs.

But we also felt hunger, we suffered pain and sickness, trembled with terror and hid our faces in
shame. Grasping, vulnerable, full of fear and greed, we saw our fellow beings as separate, as threats and competitors. We saw our own nakedness, shivered, and knew that one day death will be our fate.

From the material world of rocks, rivers, wind and fire, we stepped across a threshold into a world of thoughts and ideas, dreams and desires, stories and spirit. Walking on the edge between the worlds, we felt holiness in rocks and plants, in rivers and the air, in all living beings. And soon, we humans began to create gods in our own image, female and male we created them. Isis and Hecate, Shiva and Odin, Tara and Brighde, Anansi and Pan, all that litany of names of power, … and, at last, that Holy One whom we do not name.

The gods comforted our pain, taught us compassion, strengthened our love for one another, gave us hope for liberation, pointed the way beyond our human fears, showed us the raft that might carry us over to the other shore.

But the jealous gods also began to battle each other for greatness, and we learned to hate one another when our gods had different names, to say that my god is the only true God. We learned to consume and condemn and kill in the name of our gods.

Part 3

Käthe Kollwitz, "Woman entrusts herself to Death", 1934
Käthe Kollwitz, “Woman entrusts herself to Death”, 1934

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Bhagavad Gita 11:32

And now, all-powerful, we teeter on the edge of destruction: another Great Dying is already
underway; perhaps it’s already too late to stop it. There’s a sudden blinding flash, or maybe a slower warming, burning forests and rising seas, drowning, choking, killing each other in desperation … and all our fellow beings with us.

But that’s not the only ending to the story. Perhaps we can dare together to find active hope and
engage in a Great Turning, recognise and reweave the web of connectedness with all beings, to act together on behalf of life.

Today I call the heavens and the earth to bear witness: set before us are life and death, blessings and curses. Now let us choose life, so that we and our children may live!

This is not a caravan of despair.
It doesn’t matter if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Still come, and yet again come!

― Rumi

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