Underneath Yellowstone National Park a plume of magma moves up from the earth’s core, superheating the underground water table so that on a very regular basis a geyser shoots up through the crust, delighting onlookers at the Park. It’s a tourist attraction, and a reminder that there’s more happening under our feet than we can tell by just looking down. Old Faithful reminds us that the earth is a living system with forces beyond our control, such as the tectonic shift that is moving the crust as it floats above the magma, and where the plates rub against each other, mountains form, earthquakes shake the ground, and it is possible for the shockwaves to produce underwater tsunamis. We get a hint of these powerful forces when Old Faithful erupts, dramatically and beautifully revealing that we are not in control and there is a level of reality that we do not fully understand.
Singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” with the words “joyful and triumphant” reminds me at Christmas that there is a level of reality behind the scenes that we only glimpse occasionally, and when we celebrate that God values creation enough to become one of us, and that nothing can separate us from God’s love because God will cross all barriers so that the “moral arc of the universe is long, and bends toward justice.” (The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., quoting the Rev. Theodore Parker).
We go about our business on a day to day basis, dealing with the variations and twists and restrictions imposed on us by a global pandemic, and as we mind our own business, something shocks us into paying attention, and we find ourselves at vigils affirming that Black Lives Matter, volunteering to serve as election judges, giving away our last roll of toilet paper, or donating to help those devastated by the wild fires.
There are things happening all around us, forces such as racism, poverty, greed, a debilitating, devastating virus and even more debilitating mistrust and fear. We take those as normal, and then there is a shock of hope, God does care, good will win, Love is born! And as the geyser Old Faithful shoots up from under the earth, it is a visible reminder of the invisible reality that geological forces beyond our control and total comprehension exist. When we sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” we are celebrating the invisible reality that God’s love became visible and love wins!
Today’s Prayer Poem: a quote from Hamlet, Act !, Scene 1
Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.
It’s been cloudy here every night this week so I haven’t seen the conjunction of the planets in person, but the pictures from NASA are fabulous: the universe abounds with mystery. Enjoy!
Grace, peace, and hope to you!