A Moment of Grace

EarthQuaker Issue 96

Friends, for many years now I have been committed to the study of cosmology, the study of the evolution of the Universe and how to make meaning from that, where science and spirituality intersect. (Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grimm are some of the names associated with this work.)

And I have come to understand from this 14-billion-year story of the evolution of the Universe from the big bang through the formation of galaxies and stars, to the creation of planets and  the formation of our solar system, and then the unimaginable burgeoning of life on our own little planet Earth from molten rock to what we see today - I have come to understand that there is a life-giving patterning that is evident again and again: whether in a forest, in the workplace, in a galaxy or in the human body, this pattern is evident where life is thriving.

You won’t be surprised to learn that some of these patterns include inter-relatedness, diversity, creativity, self-organisation, synergy - there are more – I have come to see these as the patterning of God just as I have come to see the whole irrepressible creative impulse that is the vital energy of the still-unfolding Universe as the God impulse. So powerful has this understanding become for me that I look for the presence or absence of this patterning in almost every situation and in my own actions. 

However, in the midst of all these life affirming patterns there is one which is unexpected, and it is ‘cataclysm’ or disaster. The story of the Universe shows us that it evolves to higher levels of complexity, beauty, consciousness through moments of cataclysm – the death of a star leading to the birth of a planet and solar system, the mass extinction 65 million years ago leading to the magnificence of life on Earth as we know it now. And we can relate to this on a personal level where some major pain or loss in life brought inner transformation or new possibilities or insights. 

We are living through times of unimaginable loss, of mind-numbing destruction, of deepening and spreading pain in human communities, in other than human communities, in ecosystems, the collapse of institutions, of certainties and maybe also the collapse of delusions.  It feels as if all of life is in agony.  

And it is we, our generation, who are called to bear witness, to step forward to hospice the collapse of the ways that no longer serve life on Earth and to serve as midwife to the birth of a new way of being human…surely the work of the elder.

Our Universe has embarked on another great evolutionary surge and we are called to assist.

No wonder Thomas Berry calls this a moment of grace…a privileged moment.

Clíodhna Mulhern