Earth Was Not Surprised
Acts 10:34a, 37-43 + Col 3:1-4 + Jn 20:1-9
On Easter morning, Earth was not as surprised as Mary and the disciples.
Earth did not know what to expect, but it was not surprising that God once again brought the fullness of life out of the chaos of death, grief, and deep sadness.
Earth had seen God do this over and again. Earth knew the truth of the yeast kneaded and baked into every individual, community, and ecosystem ever called forth.
Earth had developed a deep trust, a knowing that the leaven of resurrection is embedded in each sorrow and ending. Over and again, in the billions of years of her existence, Earth had seen destruction birth new life. Meteor impacts, volcanoes, changing sea levels, and glaciation five times led to massive dying and extinctions on Earth. Each time, God called forth newness in the form of new plants, animals, and landscapes drawn from the remnants of destruction. Forests yield to savannahs, conifers to flowers, dinosaurs to mammals. Among the inconceivable surprises, T-Rexes, Velociraptors, and Pterodactyls evolve into hawks, blue jays, and parakeets. Primal mammals evolve into primates and eventually into self-aware humans.
Over and again, Earth has seen the ash of forest fires become the nutrients of new growth. The silt from floods fertilizes the plains, the dust storms on one continent bear life across an ocean. Droughts yield to rainstorms. The fall of a single tree gives light to a forest floor.
Year after year, Earth has seen Winter’s stillness quicken to Spring’s promise, to Summer’s fruiting, to Fall’s feast, and back to Winter’s rest.
Perhaps the relative age of Earth allows her to keep more in her memory and heart than we humans, whose lives are measured in decades, not billions of years.
Maximus the Confessor has said that “Creation is a bible whose letters and syllables are the particular aspects of all creatures and whose words are the more universal aspects of creation.”
Meister Eckhart is quoted as saying that “every creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God.” It is said he told the nuns at Colmar, “Anyone who truly knows creatures may be excused from listening to sermons for every creature is full of God, and is a book.”
Creation itself, the First Book of Revelation, has been revealing God to humanity for some two million years, long, long before we had the gift of our written Scriptures. Perhaps, for some of us anyway, this Easter season is a time to remember that Earth has much to teach us.
Earth was not as surprised as Mary and the disciples on Easter morning. Earth long trusted in the God who brings new life from the chaos of death, grief, and deep sadness. Earth knows that the fullness of life is waiting to leaven every emptiness. Earth was not as surprised, but she, with Mary and the disciples, leaped with the joy of hope fulfilled.
Sr. Linda Gibler, OP
Houston Dominican Sisters