In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. —Genesis 1:1-5
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden… . —Genesis 2:4b-8
In class on Wednesday, our professor read us the first text (on into the Second Day) so we could hear the rhythms and play of sounds in how the Hebrew is put together.
The second text was one of our Scripture passages in Thursday-worship. We were meditating on newness and new things, including or particularly this new school year and term.
It struck me that, in the indifferently hostile chaos, and the good order that God brings, there is little or no connection — until life is created. Life keeps a foot in both camps, being inherently ordered so it can exist but also trending into dis-order/chaos at every moment.
Life is the bridge between order and chaos, and when God made it part of everything, everything was very good. The whole better than ordinary order!
Still, in our bridge status lies the sin — non-pejoratively: dis-order — that steadily threatens. Even at the level of our human biology, research indicates that we can move actively and routinely, encouraging our cells and systems into health and growth, or sit still while the systems of entropy continue to disintegrate us*.
Now, I have some impressively strong, culturally shaped, ideas of what “order” — and thus living in God’s goodness! — is supposed to be. They’re the usual scripts for first-born children, high achievers, and those from the Puritan and Scots-Irish traditions of hard work and thrift. Lists with checkboxes figure prominently! Even so, I have come to intellectually appreciate that a certain amount of serendipity and/or play belongs within the bounds of order… though I continue to struggle to incorporate that understanding into my daily life. This week’s schedule struggles are timely — this term’s first step toward re-asserting an order that trends toward wholeness.
Standing as part of the bridge between order and chaos, stepping into a new thing (that is also a bit of an old thing), my dreams fill with chaos that I, even in the unconsciousness of dreaming, keep stretching to fill with care, concern, wholeness, life… order. (For what is the Mad Max cycle but chaos+order, over and over? And yes, I dreamed a new Mad Max episode last night.)
Even in sleep, I recognize I am out of order, but am still standing on the bridge. Order is not far, and with it its life-blessing. Once I re-see good orderedness, I can rest. Right?
Despite my wistful wish, earthly order is never going to remain self-sustaining, like a solar-powered clockwork. But order has the strength of its own orderliness as a sort of blessing-flywheel. I sense that this term’s balance may become the best I’ve had in a while — I’m intrigued to see what follows.
*Popular-science version: Younger Next Year by Crowley and Lodge