I’ve been thinking a lot about creation the past few months. At first, it was the obvious, how can a church-nerd not think about creation while she is growing a life? I mean, I’m actually creating life, with my husband, out of what seems like nothing, the miniscule elements of a single cell egg and a single cell sperm. There is another element that cannot be seen, only felt. The third element is the drive to create, the deep ache of desire to enter into the holy act of creating, growing, and nurturing life. It seems to me that while that part cannot be seen, the deep ache is the greatest of the three for me.
We’ve been watching Cosmos, enjoying greatly the vast amount of information about our universe, it’s nuances, complexities and patterns. With the beginning of all coming from nothing and expanding into the beyond that is our universe, I come back to that deep ache that I imagine prompted God to create. Was God so deeply overcome by desire for creation that a dream became real from nothing? Did the first dreamer create the dream from nothing except desire?
God as first dreamer is an image discovered this week from a workshop with J. Philip Newell, a theologian and Celtic Christianity expert. Boston Avenue United Methodist Church hosted him this week with a public lecture and a workshop. It was a mighty blessing to attend. His first prayer was so outstanding that I was moved to purchase a couple of his prayer books to use in worship at Bethany. Newell’s work focuses on re-connecting with creation. God is seen as the great dreamer and creator whose character is to seek relationship with all creation, not just humanity. Prior to my being there (I was sadly late), he spoke of the womb of God. I’ve got some investigating to do around that image, but just like God as first dreamer, it got me wondering.
I want so deeply to ask God, did it hurt? Or, as we know creation continues to expand, literally with the universe getting bigger, and as creation continues in its cycles, I want to ask, does it hurt? Maybe it’s an unfair anthropomorphizing, but I’m going there anyway. Pregnancy hurts. It hurts emotionally because there are so many emotions experienced, not to mention how the hormone fluctuations affect you. It hurts physically because my body is expanding. I knew it would be uncomfortable, but -y’all- this HURTS. I won’t go into the details, but there are lots of strange pains that I could not have anticipated. It hurts spiritually because there is so much dreaming that happens held in tension with the hope that because of and in spite of my dreaming this baby will thrive in her very own way.
Did it hurt, God? Were you aching for creation as you dreamed? At the moment of the big bang, where your dream began to take shape and life, did you know the physicality of what was happening? As the atoms moved outward, could you feel yourself expand into all that is and yet being uncontained by any of it? Did it hurt, God? When your dream-made-real began and morphed into its own self-perpetuating expression and self-destroying tendencies, what brought your first tear? Does it hurt, God? As the reverberations (newly confirmed) of our expanding creation move ever outward, does it feel like the rip in my abdominal wall where growth has to happen in order to make room for what is so good and so scary at the same time? Does it hurt, God? When we hear Paul in Romans talking about the groaning of creation, is it creation that groans or your voice reverberating in creation through the ages? (Romans 8:22)
Does it hurt, God? Did you know, as you dreamt the very first dream, that what would come would be so hard, so beautiful, so wondrously chaotic and so simple, all at the same time?
Does it hurt?
As I went up to J. Philip Newell afterward to get my books signed, I was strangely quiet. He has this quality of soft beauty that is difficult to explain. The woman helping him with the line asked me when I was due. As I replied, mumbling almost, Newell said, “the shape of a pregnant woman is the most beautiful shape in the universe.” If you couldn’t see me after he said that it was because I melted into the floor. I said thank you and he replied with “Blessings for your baby.” Without knowing what to say, I touched his arm and said thank you again. All the while, diligently controlling the tears welling up in my eyes. This man so clearly in relationship with the divine blessed our baby. I was awe-struck with thankfulness. It may have well have been Pope Francis.
When reflecting on his sense of the pregnant shape, I think it is beautiful because it is the shape of a dream’s first blossoming. It’s like the bud of the flower that lasts just a day too long, granting us, in the moment, more anticipation than satisfaction at it’s bloom.
 Language borrowed from Newell’s prayer that got to me.