Monday, January 08, 2018

In the beginning

by Karen Miedrich-Luo
The Golden Gate Bridge in Fog, November 2017

On January 4, I began reading from the New International Version (NIV) of The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Stop. The earth was formless and empty and dark. This is me. This is the way I feel in my darkest moments; the way I sense things as I grow older and my vision lessens and my memories dim like a fog settling over a town. I know there are alleys and paths I can follow, but sometimes I get lost as soon as I start down one way and then the map in my mind crumples and tears. The brain fog, the slower step, the deep stillness of thoughts without words, these are common woes, maybe depression, maybe just poor sleep. (I still have the presence of mind to worry these common beads!) In whatever form, it is a diminishing. And the waters, yes. Sometimes you feel like you are drowning in them.

Where are the waters? I used to think they were on the earth but the earth is formless and empty. This earth is not a sphere suspended in a newly formed universe. It has no form. It is empty, yet somewhere there is water because God is hovering over waters, much water.

God is hovering. There is energy in hovering, and waiting; there is patience, and closeness, and expectancy. Especially, there is closeness, like a bird hovering over her eggs, like an artist, a teacher, a mechanic, tending to the work at hand, listening for the right sounds, watching every movement. There is no distance here. To hover is to protect and nurture that which is beneath.

I began this year ruminating on the irony that the latter half of life feels like a retroactive descent back into childhood, back into non-memory. And in this season of new beginnings, I am struggling to regain the focus, the energy, and the sense of purpose I once felt. But here is a dramatic twist: The story of all beginnings, from creation to birth, is begun in darkness and emptiness and formlessness. God's creative Spirit is hovering, waiting, so close in this dark and lonely abyss; ready to speak something new to me, in me, for me. Are the waters even yet on the earth? What is God waiting for? I know the next three words will be, "And God said...." But before that, what is God waiting for?

I turned to the New Testament as part of my slow reading regimen and behold, for the first time I am reading John, not Matthew, because this is a narrative bible in chronological order:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

In the darkness, in the void, He is there. A spoken word has not yet been uttered but that is not the only word. The spoken word is the vocalization of the thought which broods in the speaker, the Creator,  they are one and they are the same. God is thinking, brooding, hovering, waiting as the mind and intent and desire of God becomes tangible, expressive. Something big is about to happen. Maybe something too, in me.

Word of God, make my mind beautiful to You. Perhaps restore is the wrong word. Make me new as you promise in Ezekiel 11:19. Give me a new heart and a new mind. Give me a heart of flesh for a heart of stone. Put a new spirit in me, one that cares for others - the one which hovers over the waters.
Renew the spirit of my mind (Romans 12:2). Help me speak truth and do good, speak words of encouragement, and be kind, for you have forgiven me (Ephesians 4:23 ff).

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