Friday, April 16, 2010

The Dance of Ecclesiastes: Part 3- In Awe of God

Ecclesiastes 5:7 (NIV)

7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.

This is the trouble with translations, the lay reader doesn't know what the original Hebrew meant, or even if it had one singular meaning (which it probably doesn't). I'm using the NIV version of Ecclesiastes 5:7 to make my point even though other versions (like the NRSV) are translated

7 With many dreams come vanities and a multitude of words; but fear God.

In English fear and awe emphasize two very different emotional responses. Although interestingly enough God is described as "the Fear of Isaac" in Genesis 31:42. Both do share a sense of smallness (for a lack of a better word) where one feels themselves humble and vulnerable. So what does standing in awe of God mean? Well that would depend on what we mean when we say God. After reading through Ecclesiastes I couldn't get the concept out of my head that the constant turning, motion, and breathing of the universe and all of reality itself is God. Kohelet probably could only envision God as the anthropomorphic, father figure God, but with a handful of references in Ecclesiastes God may have nothing to do with anything he teaches.

Take a minute (or better yet, take five) and consider the majesty and grandeur of the universe itself. The intricate and interdependent systems which allows the planet itself to breathe (plate tectonics, atmospheric circulation, hydrologic cycle, etc.), the relationship and cosmic systems which births new stars introducing new possibilities for life, or even take a step back and ponder what it means to be aware of it all. Everything. You, me, the computer screen, the people behind you, around you, beside you, the air in your lungs, the microscopic organisms living on your body (in your body), the environment, the complex macro and micro ecosystems, beyond beyond beyond. And finally try to imagine That which ties every single thing together, the interdependent cosmic tapestry which binds All to All.

Some may call the Universe a sign pointing towards a Supreme Being, a Grand Designer. I would argue why bother looking beyond (outside of) the vast and intricate totality of the universe before grasping its enormity and complexity? How is it that religion after religion contain schools of thought which point within ourselves and reality instead of outside of it towards a separate and elevated Creator? And not just within us physically but hiding just behind a thin veil, just beneath the surface where mankind can just barely make out an outline. What is behind the veil, connecting All to All? A cosmic chaotic rhythm, a wild creative force, a dance driving the Universe. Everything is in constant motion, constant change, constant flowing, constant vibration. If you take a minute and let it All soak in you might realize that the universe may not revolve around our microscopic lives. That we merely play a minute but integral part in the immense mechanism which we call the universe.

So what, then, do we do? We dance. We allow the universe to continue humming away without trying to shape and bend it to our will. The dance of Ecclesiastes does not contain esoteric or hidden mysteries, it's just a dance. There are no moves to learn or techniques to master, just a surrendering to the rhythm and standing in awe of it All.


Don said...

Great post! I think you have the basics down. Sometimes we try to complicate the cosmically simple. Live, breathe, know!

Doug B said...

As a pantheist I find the cosmos is quite enough to keep me dancing. I agree fully: "we merely play a minute but integral part in the immense mechanism which we call the universe."

Chris Ledgerwood said...

What an wonderful post, thanks

Doug Robertson said...

It's already been said, but this really is a great post. Excellent as always.

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