Saturday, August 6, 2022

Gaia - liminal space of our being

     This week's blog post is something of a departure from what I've been writing about here lately! It was a thought challenge that came in a group of gifted people, and it was a real treat to be encouraged to use my mind in this abstract way to put words to some of my religious experience. The challenge given was simply the title of this blog post, which several people took and ran with in quite different directions. And here's mine.

Starting with two definitions of Gaia:

    Wikipedia: "In Greek mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaia is the ancestral mother—sometimes parthenogenic [or as we Catholics might say: "virginal"]—of all life."

    Encyclopedia of Biology, 2008: "The Gaia hypothesis, named after the ancient Greek goddess of Earth, posits that Earth and its biological systems behave as a huge single entity." Other sources even use the word "organism," as if the whole world were one living being.

    And a definition of "liminal space", cobbled together from various sources: "liminal" comes from the Latin "limen", meaning threshold, and refers to a place or time of transition, crossing a boundary between one thing and another, one state and another.  

    As readers of this blog know, I am a Roman Catholic, monastic hermit. For me, the fundamental mystery of Catholic Christianity is Incarnationthe loving incarnation of the infinite, unbounded, transcendant, wise, ineffable Divine Creator into boundaried Creation -- bounded by time and space, by ignorance and frailty, by individual identity, and even by mortality. This is the liminal space I am meditating on: Gaia, Earth, the world, in that holistic unified system sense, sacred as in the Greek sense, as the liminal space between the infinite Creator and finite Creation, because the Creator is incarnate in Creation. 

    My own meditation on the Incarnation is not mostly centered on the historical event of the man Jesus, who lived and died and lived again 2000 or so years ago, although that is certainly a core part of the story. But my relationship with the Incarnation is now, not historical. 

    We Catholics celebrate the daily Incarnation of God in the sacrament of the Eucharist, in which God incarnates into the form of bread and wine for us to consume and incorporate into our own, boundaried, mortal, physical selves. The Incarnation is also called the "great exchange": God became human so that we humans might become God. To receive Communion, in faith, is to be deified. It's a part of it, anyway; the other part is a long, gradual transformation over a whole life of faith. There is a short passage from 2 Corinthians in today's Office, that says "with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, we all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit." We are turned into the Divine, little by little, day by day.

    At the beginning of the pandemic, when the churches closed, the sacrament was out of reach for a long, long time. And I grieved. As a "bride of Christ," I grieved for the loss of that intimate communion, that intimate physical contact with my Beloved. Of course I still had God, on the spiritual plane -- on the transcendant plane, on God's plane. But I no longer had that palpable experience of God coming to meet me on my plane, on the creaturely plane. 

    And, so, I turned my attention more to God Incarnate in the rest of Creation. In the birds and the soil, the river and the weather, smells and seasons and the feel of the solid earth beneath my feet, all expressions of the infinite creative outpouring of God for the love of the world. And this is where I come back to the word, "Gaia." The primordial Deity; the Mother of all Life; and the liminal zone in between Finity and Infinity. And that is the Liminal Space of My Being, of our Being, of all Being: Gaia. My whole life is oriented toward God, toward that intimate relationship with God in love. And the liminal space of that union between me and God is Gaia, the living world. It is the infinite Incarnation of God in all that I experience, in my finite way, in this life, and that makes my boundaried experience transcend its boundaries, up to and including the boundary of mortality. 

    No doubt my idea of Creation as the incarnation of God crosses some line into heresy, but I don't really care much. I'm not a theologian, not a preacher or teacher of the faith. I am a contemplative woman whose experience of the Divine could never be well expressed in dry prose, and whose whole theology is therefore necessarily poetical. This is my reality, it expresses some of how I know and love God in my own everyday life. Amen.

∞∞∞  Peace  ∞∞∞

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