The Hovering Presence in the Chaos

#MidweekMeditation #LivingStories

Creation Story #1
Gen 1:1 – 2:3

Genesis is my favorite book in the Bible. Basically because it’s full of stories, stories that are full of meaning, stories that show human struggle and frailty, stories that show — despite all the chaos — a loving presence hovering over it all, a presence wanting our good.

That’s how the first story starts. Most of us know it, or at least the basics. Genesis chapter 1. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth …” And then come the poetic lines that conjure visions of time before time, something like the moments before the Big Bang, before the explosion when everything came into being. “Let there be light … and there was light!”

But before that Big Bang, before light came, there was darkness, formlessness, the deep. The Hebrew Scriptures use a playful word combination, an onomatopoeia for the mess and jumble of the primordial potentiality before distinctive form took shape: “tohu ve bohu,” a great mish-mash and confusion of nothingness. And here’s a beautiful image: hovering over all that mess was the presence of God. “… and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

There’s a sermon in that. In all the chaos and seeming darkness in your life, in times when everything may seem a mess, there is a presence lingering, hovering over you. The ancient word for “hovering” used there is another of those onomatopoeias: “merachephet.” It’s a rare word, used maybe twice in Hebrew Scripture, meaning to shake or quivver. “Fluttering” might be a better English word. In the one clear parallel, it describes the fluttering of mother eagle watching over her nest, hovering over her young (Dt 32:11).

It reminds me of the words of Jesus when he came to Jerusalem, and in a moment of prophetic vision, saw its future destruction. “O Jerusalem! How I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing …” This has always been the heart of God.

Take that image with you. The very first thing we learn about God in the first story in the Bible is that he (she!) is a protective presence hovering over the birth of everything.

This includes you. Don’t ever forget that.

~~ I’ll pick up the story where we left off in future posts. ~~

photo: “Smoke on the Water” – unattributed