Carl Sagan observed that “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” I have enjoyed that thought since I first heard it on Cosmos. I think it speaks in elegant simple terms to some of the biggest Why questions, and also affirms that awesome paradox that we can be at once insignificant specks in a vast universe, and a vital part of this creation. As we advance through Advent and contemplate on preparing for the coming of the Lord, I have found my mind wandering along a very different perspective on that duty, one which stretches back to the first man and forward to the last.
I would suspect that most of us have at some point watched a sunrise, or sat in silence and listened to the world around us, whether it is the bustle of a city or the soft sounds of quiet field, and really felt a deep and touching sense of beauty and appreciation for the world around us. Having felt this, I suspect that most of us find ourselves able to project expectations and predictions. We feel safe in thinking that earlier sunrises may also have been beautiful, that other moments of stillness may also have been so inspiring. This is an awesome power of the human mind, the ability to project our reactions to creation beyond our direct experience, to appreciate and even long for even those times and places we will never be.
I think that this power is a vital part of our place in the cosmos, our role in creation. Before the advent of man, sunrises were, and sunrises were good. After man’s first dawn the sunrise was beautiful, and what is more, the sunrises before suddenly had also been beautiful, and sunrises yet to be as well. How awesome is that? Created in God’s image, we can truly appreciate the wonder of his creation more fully than any other part of it. In this awareness we enrich creation itself. God is Just, but without man to understand, there is no justice to be served. God is merciful, but without man to transgress, there is no need of mercy. Our existence allows a fuller and more profound expression of the Lord God into Creation, our lives prepare the whole universe to know him more fully, and that is what my thoughts stray towards this Advent.
I am drawn to the eternal nature of God, and the idea that to a being without end, preparation may not always be as temporally constrained a thought as when we prepare for a visitor, or prepare for a test. I look towards opportunities to prepare creation itself. To find something of beauty that has never been loved before or to uncover a fact I did not know and marvel at the complexity of God’s creation. Perhaps to see an act of kindness and for a moment feel an echo of the giving heart of Christ Jesus that I may love him more. I look this Advent not towards trying to shape the world around me into a form I hope will please God. Instead I look for those opportunities around me every day to find a new way to see God more fully in the world, to understand Love more deeply, and use my human nature to project that onward, to enrich ever more of creation with those virtues.
Certainly I still find myself acting and focusing more on the proper Christian Spirit of selfless love, a state I should cultivate year round, but I add to that an idea of preparing the entire world. If St. Francis could preach to the birds and beasts, and if all of creation testifies of His Glory, then should not we ponder on those places we have not yet heard testify? See if they have something to say to us, or if we have some existing understanding of God we can share with them to enrich the whole world with God’s grace? I wish for a Blessed Advent, Merry Christmas, and a Joyful New Year for each of you, and all those you love, known and unknown.