In the film we have been watching for a few weeks, ‘Journey of the Universe’, cosmologist Brian Swimme highlights the great evolutionary leap when humans developed ‘symbolic consciousness’ – the use of written language and art to share knowledge and experience over time.
All religions rely on this symbolic consciousness. We need language and symbols to tell our experiences of God (our theophanies) and to share our understandings about God (our theology). Words and pictures and music, metaphor and story are the tools of transmission of an inherited faith. The symbolic consciousness of Christianity – contained significantly in the Bible – offers us an enduring Way to collectively learn how to align our lives with the goodness – the Godness of evolving Creation.
Jesus’ brilliant ‘symbolic consciousness’ gave rise to his parables. Inspired by his intimacy with the Creator and his keen awareness of the Creation around him in nature and agriculture, he made use of nature’s stories to teach the wisdom of the ages. For instance, he used seeds in many of his ‘teachable moments.’
Seeds are such evocative symbols of life’s seemingly impossible generativity – like the tiny mustard seed that transforms into a tree. Seeds show us how in dying, buried beneath the earth, new forms of life break forth. The story of a seed illustrates the interdependence of each life with the community of life – the soil, other seeds, the rain and sun and all the earth. Us too.
Let’s listen to our Gospel reading now, conscious of how Jesus uses seeds as symbols in these parables. What new wisdom might Jesus’ seed parables germinate in your consciousness, today?
Reading of Matthew 13:1-9, 31-32
In our time, this tiny mustard seed moment within the expanse all of time, it seems that the story of the Universe is coming to a climactic crisis. In our context, Jesus’ seed parables can carry whole new layers of meaning.
Shall we unearth some possibilities? Some of the questions that his seeds pose to us today?
As a people, will we plant seeds of apocalypse on the rocky soils of human ego and growth economy consumption? What of those genetically modified seeds, eh?
Or will we plant seeds of resurrection, in the fertile ground of deepening compassion and enriched human consciousness?
Will we water the delicate organic seedlings of our evolving consciousness with an unceasing prayerful flow of God’s Spirit?
Will we nurture humanity’s hope for a future with the humous of our humility and the penetrating rays of childlike wonder and curiosity?
Will we stand steadfast and attentive, beside God the gardener of Creation, allowing our awe and expectation to unfold our right role in evolution?
Attending to the Universe Story so far, we can see that there are repeated patterns through the ages – patterns of order evolving out of chaos, resurrections out of crucifixions. The astounding story of evolving Creation -14 billion years so far – promises that in this historic moment of crisis and crucifixion of the Earth, the seeds of a transformed future can germinate. And we, with our big brains and symbolic consciousness, can collectively take our part in the unfolding of galaxies. We have the creative capacities of mustard seeds. And Jesus taught us to be Kingdom makers.
So, the prophetic challenge of this moment in evolution is: Will we make God use of our consciousness seeds to grow hope for our world? Will we let our childlike wonder lead us on Jesus’ Way to earth kin-dom?
Let’s watch the conclusion of ‘The Journey of the Universe’ and ponder what seeds you and I can sow, and how we are able to help the universe grow.