Saturday, August 6, 2011

Christian Physics

Today we celebrate the transfiguration of the Lord, when Jesus appears with Moses and Elijah. This reading invites to reexamine the most basic parts of how we understand the universe, to clarify the distinction between our perception of the universe and the universe itself.

As finite creatures, we can experience only one place at a time. From our perspective we move through time: the past behind us, the future in front of us, the present being what I am experiencing now. We perceive things to exist in three dimensional space. We see it all in reference to ourselves. Up is what is above my head.

All we have to do is imagine looking at the world from the space station and ask, "which way is up?" to realize how these terms are mere conventions we use to describe our experience.

In today's gospel Jesus appears with Moses and Elijah. They are not ghosts. They are the actual persons. How can three people from three different historical periods be in the same place at the same time? Answer: for God there is neither time nor space. For God all time and space is the here and now.

Why does any of this matter? It can seem a great abstraction, but it is critical for our daily lives.

All too often, particularly at difficult times, we confuse what we are experiencing at a particular moment with "my life." When someone says, "My life sucks." what they are really referring to is not their life but what they are experiencing at that moment. Unfortunately because they confuse the two they can make bad, irreversible, sometimes deadly choices.

For christians, the phrase "my life" does not means "what I am experiencing at this moment." "My life" is something created by God, good, and intended to ultimately spend eternity in God's presence, to be one with God. "My life" is a gift more precious than gold. Unfortunately, we can't see our life as a whole. Imagine if we could.

The story of Genesis tells us that when God created the first human life he looked at it and saw that it was very good. And I believe that each time God creates a new human life, his response to his creation is the same.

Imagine we could see what God saw at the moment he created any one of us. If we could, our answer to the question "How's life?" would always be "Amazing!"