December 23, 2014
During Lent, I led a class entitled: Scripture in a Scientific Age. Each week we examined a certain aspect of scripture that conflicted with our scientific understanding of the world we live in.
One week, the topic was the cosmology of heaven and earth in scripture and science. We wrestled with the metaphors in scripture locating Heaven, up, and Hades, down. We talked about the scientific perspective of the universe through the lens of the Hubble space telescope. And we wondered how to imagine the relationship between God and God’s creation when science left no corner unexplored.
I began drawing Venn diagrams on the flip chart to describe our options. Circles separate and apart, circles tangent, circles intersecting. Finally, I drew two circles with one inside the other. A big circle “pregnant=God,” with a littler circle “=creation” inside.
“Maybe God and creation are like this,” I said, pointing to the drawing. When I looked up, I discovered that everyone in the room was looking at my enormous seven-month-pregnant belly and smiling at the similarity to my drawing. I laughed at the coincidence, but the revelation that God might be pregnant with creation knocked me over.
All of the sudden, my imagination lit up with all the ways that God is carrying us in her womb, loving us intensely, never able to abandon us, and yet unable to reach into the womb and fix it when we are suffering or in danger with the umbilical cord around our neck. I was overwhelmed by my new perspective of the intense love that God must have for us, waiting for us to be born and yearning to see us face to face, because of the intense love I felt for my baby, whom I had yet to meet but loved with all my being.
Though I risk panentheism (a heresy according to some), I continue to imagine creation resting in God’s womb. We gaze at our loving Mother in Heaven through a mirror dimly, surrounded by her nurture and care and yet we are on our own to grow and develop into her children by following the first-born of all creation, Jesus our brother and our Lord.
The Rev. Adrien Dawson is the rector of St. Mark’s on-the-Hill Episcopal Church, Pikesville.