Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Tiny Bird

If you can, I’d recommend you go check out this Youtube video.

Essentially, this gentleman rescues animals. It appears that he spends his entire free time rescuing animals, in fact, or that it’s his job, because he gets a call from someone who found a tiny birds’ nest in their lawn chairs.

The man finds a tiny pair of eggs, no bigger than the end of your fingernail, in that nest. He turns these eggs faithfully three times a day.

As someone who tried to hatch quail eggs, and then lizard eggs that my leopard geckos laid, I can tell you that kind of dedication is hard! There’s this moment when the man holds the tiny eggs up to the light of his cell phone—

And one of them’s totally empty.

He describes a sense of hope and fear that there might be an embryo in it. Just the panic of knowing this new baby could die! And that hope of seeing that life. When he shines the light on the second egg, and you see the two umbilical veins (that’s what they are in humans, I don’t know in birds), just flashing and pulsing against the translucent shell—

You just have to hold your breath with him. That tiny tiny tiny life.

I feel like that when I see the early term embryos in my patients on ultrasound. That’s your baby. That’s your tiny tiny tiny baby.

Things are more precious for being small. There’s a video with millions of views online of a beautiful model train carved in the graphite lead of a pencil, and we ooh and aaaah over that craftsmanship—are we too stupid to ooh and aah over the craftsmanship of a tiny person, far more complicated and difficult to do by hand?

Is that why the Universe and its God are so big, and we are so tiny in comparison? The tiny blue planet, with its tiny tiny tiny people, carved by the tip of a paperclip into a graphite pen by the giant fingers shown ever so much more powerful by his delicate touch?

I digress.

After turning the eggs faithfully three times a day for several days, one of the babies hatches, and the gentleman must feed the baby every ten minutes! He arrives ten minutes late for one feeding, and the baby gets all gooey and limp and doesn’t move and open that big old mouth the way it did before. This thing hangs on to life by a minute-by-minute thread.

He has to feed it on the tip of a paperclip.

Just watching that feeding scene is so incredibly stressful. Oh--oh—the bug keeps falling off! His giant mits, no, his fingertips dwarf the baby’s entire body. The bald thing can’t even keep its head up on that little stick-neck—a stick-neck like the size of the letter “I” on my screen! It keeps missing the food, and he keeps missing its mouth…agh!

So just take a moment with me to see more than we see. Just marvel at the wonder of such a tiny animal—and its parents, perfectly equipped to feed it every ten minutes with just the right barfed up nutrient sludge so it ISN'T crazy hard and clumsy!

And then the wonder that there exist these creatures called humans that would care to spend every ten minutes feeding something that isn't their DNA, with no obvious evolutionary benefit to their direct seed (although I would imagine that compassion has a large-scale evolutionary benefit for the planet as a whole)--just--it's just awesome!

It makes me freaking impressed with God, with the intense attention to detail in this Universe. "If even a sparrow falls to the ground, your Heavenly Father knows it...and are you not worth much more than sparrows?"

Granted, this wasn’t a mind-blowingly original prometheus study. I just hope that taking a moment to meditate with me brings you a bit of joy. If it doesn’t, I want to invite you to try to set up an aquaponics system. For real. That, or try to keep alive a baby bird—do something with nature that forces you to see not the individual, but the system. You see, when you blindly look at an individual organism (without truly studying the microbiology behind it, and then the chemistry and physics behind that) you miss the entire point of the organism. If the bird parents didn’t know how to feed the baby—something reptiles don’t do well—it would die before moving on to the next level of natural selection. Setting up a self-sustaining system, like an aquaponics system, takes an incredible amount of foresight, of care, of attention, and once you’ve done that (and failed a couple times) you see the connections between these things in an entirely new way. Pantheists are right, you know, in that we are all connected. We aren’t all God anymore than my aquaponics system is all me, but it is intricately interconnected to me, to itself, to my neighborhood, even (the high nitrates in my stupid city water killing my fish certainly prove that). I don’t know how to make this clear. I don’t know how to show the miracle of our every day breathing, of the every day nitrate cycle, of the carbon cycle, of the very natural process of cellular respiration interconnected with the macro systems of ecology—we take this all for granted so much until we try to create it ourselves!

Create it yourself. Build a universe. Set up a complicated aquarium. Fail once or twice, and get frustrated, and then in that moment, sit yourself down on the ground, and repeat:

"If even a sparrow falls to the ground, your Heavenly Father knows it...and are you not worth much more than sparrows?"

That is the core of the Prometheus Studies. The wonder of Prometheus, the ancient god before Zeus, and the grand cold ancient Universe that needs nothing to do with you—and then this strange fact that Prometheus would care to bring you fire.

Happy studies, my friend. I hope that as you open your eyes and close this book, the whole world becomes your love letter from the divine.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Pain of Being God

The pain of being God.

It terrifies me, at 4:37 AM. I wake up crying because I gave up so much for them that I will never get back, because I wanted that love so badly in my loneliness, because they are still in my dreams and I will never have them again, because I loved somebody more than they loved me and received rejection, and God says, "now you know what it is like."

I'm scared by the picture I see.

He loves every single one of you, every single one of us, much, much more than we love Him. That ache of inequality will never be filled by billions of people loving Him, because He will always have the ache of those He lost. His love, from the beginning, formed your details and created all the pleasure you have ever experienced. Every moment of serendipity and goodness, he carefully wove for you through a complex genetic and physics-based scheme of history.

You will never, ever love him back that much.

The guy who wrote the book "A Lament for a Son", the book I read to understand Jonathan's death while I was hospitalized last month, says that through the pain of his son's death he sees "a much more disturbing picture," the picture of God deciding, instead of magically erasing pain, to hang bloodied and beaten and naked on a rough wooden torture stake. To engage in our suffering.

One of my friends from high school, another one I loved more than loved me, used to call God a masochist.

It's deeper than that, though.

"Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross..."

He knows a joy that motivates him through all eternity. (For, that moment is eternal for him--he is outside of time, so as Lewis says, "all times are the present" to him. He is always on the cross, and always in glory) It's a joy greater than you or I will ever know, so he engages in suffering greater than you or I will ever know in order to achieve that.

Because, as it says in the Count of Monte Christo, you cannot know how to feel joy until you deeply feel pain.

Oh, the joy of being God...

"I fill up in my body what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ." One of the most confusing things Paul ever wrote.

He enters into our suffering to be bound together with us in substance. "The firstborn must suffer" Hebrews says, so that we have a High Priest who can comfort us and understand our suffering, and, if you read Hebrews again, for a deeper, more mystical reason. The Lament guy puts it somewhat like, "By coming down to relieve our suffering, he relieves some of his" and then something like when we suffer, aching (because all aching is just a longing for the heaven we know is RIGHT--blessed are those who mourn, he says!)...

"When we suffer, we are relieving the suffering of God."

By living, and suffering, we take on some of his suffering.

Maybe that's why he made so many of us.

I am comforted, in my sorrow, by this purpose given to my ache. To know, in a tiny way, what it is like to have unrequited AGAPE-style love (I emphasize this for I know some of you Christians will take this some weird erotic way, as you are wont to do)...

To know in a tiny way, unrequited love, is to relieve a tiny bit of his suffering from unrequited love.

Oh Father, let me cause you less pain. Or don't, and let me then cause you more joy? Maybe this Paradox is why "those forgiven much, love much"--why he spurns the righteous Pharisees and seeks out sinners, who will hurt him the most.

Because then he can have the most Fatherly joy in their feeble attempts to love him back.

Oh, the terror and beauty of this God I love.