By Michael Poole
Recently, researchers completed a meticulous survey of the San Andreas Fault. They identified detailed features that point to imminent danger.
It’s strange how things break apart, spew and spit, quiver and quake, only to then get back together again. Scientists say it’s a matter of when, not if, the tectonic plates that form the San Andreas Fault will bump, slide or heave and erupt in cataclysmic chaos.
We know this, yet life goes on. When a quake comes and breaks everything apart, it’s followed by a time that brings things together again. Survivors emerge from the rubble and rebuild. Such is life.
Geologists tell us that continents are actually chunks of covered granite floating on seas of molten lava about 50 miles down. It was not always so. Three-hundred-million years ago, all land was joined in one supercontinent called Pangaea.
Through time, Pangaea broke apart into “continents.” These masses of granite float, drift apart, bump, drift and bump in perpetual cycles sated with earthquakes and gaping fissures that belch steam, ash and molten reflux. Pass the Tums please.
Count me among those who believe geologic breaking apart and coming together is both natural and providential. These breaking/mending cycles are creatively crucial, essential to life – both life on earth and the very life of Mother Earth.
Long before Adam received the Creator’s life-giving lungful, Mother Earth was sprouting, spawning, breathing, yawning, burping and sloshing precious red molten liquid in her veins — geologic pulses of a living earth.
In other words, before “me,” there was earth and sea, sky and land, flying/crawling/creepy things, all in forward flux. Guided by a determined God toward an undetermined, organic course, creation remains “good” (Genesis 1-2), though not complete.
By design, things change. Stuff evolves: constellations, orbs and earth, granite, spewing lava, along with people, cultures, values, views of God — all humanity and nature, living organisms — each in its own way.
Without dispute, life is complex and chaotic. Humankind’s self-imposed blights threaten God’s creation. Hunger, poverty, disease and economic and social injustice shame our kind. Self-centered ash spews across the globe. Yawning “faults” between rich and poor swallow both in oblivion.
Add to these sins our misuse of fossil fuels that corrodes earth’s heaven-given halo. Things are cracking, breaking apart, wearing down and getting out of whack. Some say, “Life on earth stinks more each day.”
The New Testament Jesus speaks of the need to let go of one thing before embracing another. Stories like “the new wine in old skins” and “the seed that first dies” before producing life remind us that death precedes resurrection.
For decades, Christians have been groaning about the loss of “good old days.” The golden days of Christianized America boasted gorged church rolls, sanctuaries and vacation Bible schools. Gone are Christian prayers in public squares, literal interpretations of the Bible, traditional forms of marriage and a patriarchal/colonial worldview in which God is on “our” side.
In a controversial and thought provoking FOX episode titled “Shooting Star,” Glee’s Sue reminds us just how much things have changed. “Why, Sue? Why did you do it?” She had taken a gun from a frightened student who’d brought it to school for protection; the gun accidently fires. Sue covers for the student and accepts a career-ending scenario rather than turn in the student.
I cannot imagine a school where students carry guns. But then, neither could I imagine mass shootings and self-serving politicians so consumed with reelection that doing the right thing is not even on the table. I, too, long for another time.
A few times in my life, I’ve felt the rumbles of loss and change with a God-empty aftermath. It’s anything but good. Thankfully, through the choking dust, I’ve also heard voices of first responders: “We’re coming.” “Can you hear us?” “It’s going to be okay.”
Friend, hear these words: Jesus still walks with the broken, the marginalized, the leper, the hungry, persecuted and those whose hope has been torn from their very souls. His voice cuts through the choking dust: “The Kingdom of God is here.”
In God’s good time, your life will be resurrected; it will reassemble in new ways. Believe! It will happen. It’s the way things work. Look around. Stuff breaks apart. Life comes together again.
We are children of our Heavenly Father. We are also offspring of Mother Earth, alive and evolving into God’s new creation. These two are related.
God says: “Do not be afraid, the Kingdom is here.” What breaks apart comes together again — only better.