|Valentine's Day. Ash Wednesday. John 13:31-38.|
We enter this world with a fierce curiosity for where we belong and who we are. Our parents and caregivers tell us stories before we can comprehend them and read us books before we can follow a plot. If we're lucky, they whisper their unconditional love before we have to ask.
My children were all born in the month of February, when so much of the world stalls in hibernation and snuggles in for warmth. When they were tiny I would dress them in soft, furry snow suits with bear ears atop their heads. Then I would drape them in blankets and strap them to my chest before heading out into the cold world.
I liked being pregnant a lot more than I liked caring for newborns, so having their breath so close to my chest was nostalgic and satisfying. I would wrap my arms around their sleepy bodies as if to say, “This is where you belong. This is who you are. No matter where you go.”
Perhaps it was this kind of love that inspired the first Creation story, six chapters of order born from chaos. When God breathes and speaks, life springs forth. Scientists describe creation as an explosion of ancient stars that released cosmic ash throughout the universe eight billion years ago.
Astrophysicists say heaven’s primal outburst spilled life’s richest ingredients all over the galaxy, ensuring that we are all connected. Every living thing belongs to every other living thing, which makes us (atomically and literally) stardust.
“We have calcium in our bones and iron in our veins, carbon in our souls and nitrogen in our brains. 93 percent stardust with souls made of flames. We are all just stars that have people names.” – Nikita Gill
For some this creation story is too abstract or disorienting, so Genesis gives us a second account. Adam is gathered into human form from this cosmic and earthly dust. God breaths Spirit and life into him, which ignites relationship, love, and freedom. Adam is wrapped in the soft security of a garden, close to God’s bosom where he can hear whispers, “This is where you belong. This is who you are. No matter where you go.”
And he goes, alright!
But the love and the story go with him.
I recently learned that mothers carry the cells of their babies inside their bodies for years after giving birth. It made me think about my own body and children, the complexities of loving part of yourself beyond yourself.
It make me think about Mary the mother of Jesus, who lost track of her boy and found him in the temple days later.
It made me think about God as our heavenly parent, who knows and forms us and then sets us free. Is God laced with some of our cells, our cosmic and earthly dust?
In John 13, Jesus makes a promise to the disciples: There will be a relationship even when we cannot be physically together. He knows we will look for him when he’s gone and so he tells us to look for love. To listen for the story he’s been telling about where we belong and who we are.
And, when we do, we remember that we are stardust.
· We are the richest ingredients in the galaxy, ancient stars with people names. We are holy and adored, fearfully and wonderfully made.
· And we are also the dormant soil of earth, silent and still without the breath of Spirit and life to raise us up, to whisper love that calls us out of slumber and death.
We enter this world with a fierce curiosity for where we belong and who we are. We need storytellers who can give voice to our location in the cosmos, who can speak and sing and whisper the truth: Creation has been dying and rising for God’s glory for billions of years, a testimony to God’s explosive love for you.
Jesus addresses the disciples as Little Children, not to belittle them, but to extend God’s parental voice and comfort in a moment of uncertainty. So that they will see him whenever they look for love and they will know who they are whenever they tell stories about the God who turns stars to dust and breathes dust into life.