Pillars below, holding everything up on solid foundations of the earth. Waters below in their place. Waters above contained in vaults behind sealed floodgates. A storehouse for snow and hail. And perched above it all, God’s throne.
Okay, this combined depiction of the common biblical descriptions of the world as seen through the eyes of ancient Near Eastern and Mesopotamian cultures may not match our scientific data. But I recognize this model. It’s the ordered world I wish I always experienced and the one most of us who sign on the dotted line of religion believe we’re getting in the bargain.
And should those floodgates give way and deluge us with calamity or cancer or tumors or bankruptcy or divorce or whatever upheavals we may experience, the throne of God will hear about it. Where’s my ordered world? Where’s my neatly arranged and categorized cosmos with it’s strong pillars, secure floodgates, locked-in-the-basement Sheol – and let’s not forget the palm trees!
No, this isn’t an outdated cosmology. Not at all. Forget about science.
This is what we have ordered.
It’s just not what’s delivered, is it?
I listened to a young man this week who has experienced one calamity after another for going on three years. At least. He’s afraid even to plan an appointment for next week, let alone get his hopes up for any kind of “normal” ordered existence. Why bother? As soon as you dry out from this deluge another one will let loose. There was no bitterness against God I heard in his voice. Just a weary resignation to the inevitable. It’s a time for mutual groaning in the midst of such consistent inconsistencies, not for singing Annie songs or sharing idyllic Kinkade landscapes.
I talked about Jupiter. With such a massive gravitational pull, Jupiter sucks in so many objects that might obliterate other planets (including our own) in the solar system. Good for the solar system. But it sure sucks to be Jupiter…
Maybe this biblical cosmology is our dream. Maybe it’s what we wish for, hope for, long for.
Or maybe it just needs to be internalized.
What’s outside is so not this.
And maybe that’s why it’s so imperative that our inner world be precisely this.
And there’s the challenge: to experience such deep order in the midst of so much rampant and unpredictable disorder.
Too bad we can’t just order the order. Such manufactured and fabricated inner worlds tend to have so many foundational cracks, leaky floodgates, and flooding basements. We can’t order the order. But I believe we can experience it.
We can glimpse it.
We can live in it, even.
Maybe. Just maybe.