There is a pained and poignant question in today’s reading from John. The dense disciples are still asking for proof from Jesus. Jesus turns to Phillip and says, “Have I been with you for all this time and still you do not know me?”
This is a heart-penetrating question that could well be addressed to each and every one of us. Jesus has been with us 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years or more and yet we still act as if we do not know him.
Part of the reason may be that we have focused far too much on a personal relationship with the historical Jesus. We need to study the scriptures and what they teach us about the historical Jesus; however, the historic Jesus is now history. The crucial formula is “Jesus then, Christ now.”
The Christ we must come to know is the Cosmic Risen Christ. The Cosmic Christ has been incarnational in creation flaring forth for 14+ billion years. Every creature, every sunrise and every sunset, every tree and flower reveal something to us about this Cosmic Christ—the presence of the Living God in creation as it churns and groans toward completion. Reinier Mungia, a photographer and naturalist, told us that we have a responsibility to learn all we can about the creatures we photograph so that we can teach others about their place in the chain of being. One thing I learned this winter while on a photo shoot at Gatorland in Orlando with photographer, Robert Amoruso, is that birds have different plumage during the mating season. In fact, my birding book, show bird in mating plumage and without the plumage. How wonderfully they are created to be and to propagate the species! Who cannot look at the plumage of a snowy egret and sense some wonder?
The Christ who played before the Creator as creation flared froth from the very being of God became human and dwelled among us. His life and teaching, his miracles and healings brought us to a new level of consciousness about the Father and Jesus’ relationship to the Father. He became one with God and even though crucified as a common criminal rose to new life which we experience in the Body of Christ (Eucharist) and in the Body of Christ (community). Notice the cosmic earthly dimensions in wheat ground and grapes crushed. Notice the cosmic dimension in earthly human community as a reflection of the glory of God where we too are ground like wheat and crushed like grapes so that we may put on Christ.
Look at creation as we celebrate Earth Day. It was easy to notice creation springing into new life when we returned to the mountains. Mountains are always holy places in cosmic matters. Look at community as we celebrate resurrection to new life.
With all this about us can we still be found guilty of not knowing the Creator and the One sent to dwell among us all days? Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” speaks of the wonders of creation:
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean – the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down – who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Thomas Merton aptly describes our relationship with the Creator as cosmic dance:
For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purpose of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness. But it does not matter much because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or no.
Joyce Rupp describes the Cosmic Dance beautifully in her book The Cosmic Dance:
As I grew older,…eventually I made some startling discoveries — three of them — and they have changed my life forever. The first of these is the amazing revelation that I am made up of stardust, that every part and parcel of who I am materially was once a piece of a star shining in the heavens. The second discovery is that the air I breathe is the air that has circled the globe and been drawn in and out by people, creatures and vegetation in lands and seas far away. But the most astounding discovery that both awakened and affirmed my early childhood awareness is the fact that I am part of a vast and marvelous dance that goes on unceasingly at every moment in the most minute particles of the universe….
This book is about my experience of being with the cosmic dance, how I have fallen in love with Earth and how I have been enthralled with the mystery of Moon, Sun, and the Galaxies. It is a book about what I have learned from this great attraction to creation. My three discoveries have changed the way I look at everything and the way I relate to everyone. I see that I am not a separate entity, and never could be, because the tiny particles of my body are dancing, intermingling with the particles of life around me. It is not a matter of “them” and “me”, whether this be people, rocks, sea anemones, clouds, or rabbits on the run. Rather, it is a matter of “us….”
Dance with the Cosmic Christ who shows us the Creator.