Tag: Genesis

30 Days Spiritually Wild – Theme 4 – The Earth, The Sea, Plant Life

30 Days Spiritually Wild – Theme 4 – The Earth, The Sea, Plant Life

I am moving on to the next theme in this June focus on the natural world (alongside the UK Wildlife Trusts’ project called “30 Days’ Wild”, which seeks to connect people with nature).

As before, the theme is introduced by the poetry of Genesis:

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 

God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 

The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

There is so much to inspire us in our beautiful earth, in the amazing oceans of our earth, and in the plant life we share earth with, and depend on for our survival.

I look forward to posting some poetry on these themes, and please do feel free to share with me any of your own writing on this theme, or writing you particularly enjoy by other people on this theme!

Thank you,

Michael

Image by annca from Pixabay

30 Days Spiritually Wild – Theme 2 – LIGHT

Moving on from “Beginnings”, we now focus on LIGHT.

I find the beginning of the Book of Genesis so poetic and so profound. It all begins with God (Theme 1), and thenit all begins with light coming into darkness:

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he 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.”

Lessons from a Rule of Life (2) – Created

Lessons from a Rule of Life (2) – Created

This rule of life was:

We are created by God

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Then the Lord God formed a man[ from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

all of the above come from the Book of Genesis

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

From Psalm 139

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

From John’s Gospel

Inspiring Art – Julia Stankova

I have recently discovered an artist who makes beautiful, inspiring art.

I first came across Julia Stankova’s work through the blog Ancient Answers.

I am thrilled that Julia has given me permission to use her art in my blog, and here is the first image I would like to share.

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‘Genesis’ by Julia Stankova

I love the beautiful brightness of the angel – perhaps this is light, the first light of the dawn of creation?

The light contrasts so beautifully with the darkness of the background.

And then there are the strange red hill shapes – perhaps this is earth, life, emerging out of the darkness?

What do you make of this beautiful piece of art?

You can see more of her work here.

A month of inspirers (4) – Adam

We seem to be quite unsure about what it means to be human in the 21st century. One of the themes I return to every month is the figure of Adam, including how he has been portrayed in art – every month it seems to throw helpful light on the question of what it means to be human.

Created

21st century culture often values human autonomy, but actually I find that this is not an accurate description of being human. I did not create myself: I was born to my parents, as they were to theirs, and so the chain goes back into history.

Michelangelo’s interpretation of being created tells me this is something incredibly energetic and vital, and that there is a spiritual aspect to being created:

The creative power behind human being is not just a union of male and female, but also a God of love and energy, without whom I would not have life – as Adam, in this painting, just lounges lifelessly, awaiting the life-giving touch of God.

Complex

To be human is to be a complex of body, mind, emotion and spirit.

Leonardo’s “Vitruvian Man” is not exactly Adam, but it certain does capture something of the mystical beauty and complexity of humanity:

“Vitruvian Man”, Leonardo Da Vinci

But we are also like Van Eyck’s “Adam” below, though – not perfectly symmetrical, not beautiful in every way. Rather vulnerable, in fact, despite outward shows od strength and power:

Adam, from The Ghent Altarpiece, Van Eyck

In Van Eyck’s wider vision below, Adam and Eve (top left and top right) are just part of a much bigger spiritual picture, with God top centre, and the mystical “Lamb of God” and the fountain of life in the middle at the bottom. Humanity assembles from the four corners of the earth to worship and acknowledge their createdness, their dependence on each other and in God, and their physical, emotional and spiritual complexity.

Some people laugh at the stories of Adam and Eve today.

But I find that they shine a light on the human condition – especially my human condition!

And so Adam remains one of my inspirers…

Spiritual Reflection: What does it mean to be human?

What is man that you are mindful of him?

The son of man, that you care for him?

Psalm 8

At the start of each month, I come to reflect on fundamentals: what does it mean to be human?

Three aspects emerged at the start of this October, in 2019:

  1. To be human is to be created
  2. To be human is to interdependent
  3. To be human is to be complex

Created

Although my culture in 21st century Britain emphasises autonomy, actually I find that this is not an accurate description of being human. I did not create myself: I was born to my parents, as they were to theirs, and so the chain goes back into history.

As human beings we are created, not autonomous. Michelangelo’s interpretation of being created tells me this is something incredibly energetic and vital:

The creative power behind human being is a God of love and energy, without whom I would not have life – as Adam, in this painting, just lounges lifelessly, awaiting God’s touch.

Interdependent

Just as I am not autonomous in origin, so I am not autonomous in living. I depend on air, water, food, the earth, and especially other people. Collaboration is one of the most powerful forces available to us as human beings. Synergy multiplies our capabilities hundreds and hundreds of times. We were made to live together.

I love the way the angels dance together synergistically in this painting by Botticelli:

To live interdependently is a great challenge: the devils scuttle away at the bottom of Botticelli’s painting, reminding us that mixed motives and the presence of evil in life is never too far away. When we seek to live with others, we must deal with problems and darknesses in ourselves and in others, without losing the vision of those angels at the top of the painting, dancing in perfect harmony.

Complex

To be human is to be a complex of body, mind, emotion and spirit.

Leonardo’s “Vitruvian Man” captures something of the mystical beauty and complexity of humanity:

“Vitruvian Man”, Leonardo Da Vinci

Probably most of us are more like Van Eyck’s “Adam” below, though: not perfectly symmetrical, not beautiful in every way.

Adam, from The Ghent Altarpiece, Van Eyck

And yet, as the inside of The Ghent Altarpiece reveals, our physical existence is only part of the complexity of what it means to be human:

In Van Eyck’s vision, Adam and Eve (top left and top right) are just part of a much bigger spiritual picture, with God top centre, and the mystical “Lamb of God” and the fountain of life in the middle at the bottom. Humanity assembles from the four corners of the earth to worship and acknowledge their createdness, their dependence on each other and in God, and their physical, emotional and spiritual complexity.

What is man that you are mindful of him?

The son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8