I got a glimpse today of a world that made me smile. I saw every person, for just one moment, as a member of a special club.
I tried thinking of some grander metaphor that could add to the depth of this discovery, but I kept falling short and figured that I would just let it go. Me letting the thought go is part of a new policy I have considered enacting. I might call the policy the “Transitory Policy” and it would require that I not act on all thoughts.
The “Transitory Policy” is a response to my habit of archiving any interesting thoughts I have for later use in something like an essay or short story. While I usually act on most thoughts, whether it takes me a month or twenty minutes, some are left in the archive and get a little stale.
Now, they get a little stale to me. But to someone who has never had the thought before, they are not stale. The staleness is in relation to me, not to their value. I have no problem with this perceived staleness, except that it makes it quite difficult to act on a thought that has become cold and unfamiliar. Sometimes it feels like I am working with someone else’s thought and that is quite uncomfortable. Other times, I will read one of my archived thoughts (they range from a word, to a sentence, to three paragraphs, to a thousand words), and laugh, because it is incoherent. I write them for myself, you see, but for myself at that time. They are helpful to remind myself when the thoughts are still hot off the press, but serve little to no good in transposing the great passion I feel for them in the present for my future self, for me now.
The “Transitory Policy”, therefore, is a recognition that there are many joys in this life, many profound thoughts, many glimpses into the fabric of creation, but all things are fading. I stand on a bed of quicksand and I will one day be swallowed up, unable to recall my mental space as a mortal. The “Transitory Policy” is a way to let me relax and to look at a thought and say, yes, that is interesting. I may act on it later, I may not. I might just use it in a conversation or enjoy it by myself. One of the greatest pleasures God has given is to allow us to see through the fabric of creation and give us the privilege of keeping it to ourselves.
This is often called for, because if you do see something grand even if you are just walking down the street, and feel it so greatly that you must call your brother who is living in another state, his response will never match the passion you feel for it. And his inability to see what you see sucks the joy out of the whole thing. In that case, it would have been better to keep it between you and God.
Now that you have been thoroughly introduced to the “Transitory Policy”, let me tell you about the thought that was on the chopping block. Since I had the thought, I have lost the passion I once had for it, but the sun dog is still in the sky and the dots are still dancing on the back of my eye lids.
This special club goes beyond nearly all boundaries that prevent people from seeing it. It goes beyond our religions, our races, our places, our perspectives, our imports, our exports, our developmental errors, and our inflated views of self. This special club is the club, not of humanity – which goes beyond the one boundary which this special club does not – but of the living.
We are all here for a time, in this transitory and ticking state, experiencing the frailty of our bodies and the mockery of the elements on our skin. We are the vessels, the members of this special club – and to call it special sounds diminutive, unfortunately – and we have all escaped being sucked into a far greater club than any of us could fathom. The adverse of the special club is this greater club. This greater club is not the club of the dead, but of the nonexistent.
If I were to call it a battle, it might seem crass and progressive. But I am not just talking about the millions of seeds that did not make it, so you could become more than a seed. That is one battlefield of an ancient and complicated war. It is a war whose battlefields are found in the regions of your personal history. Only you have stepped out of this war. Your existence in this small frame is the victory.
I am not suggesting evolutionary progress. I am suggesting something far greater and whether evolution plays a part is irrelevant entirely. In the beginning, God subdued a force called chaos, so that he could bring order into existence. In my mind, I do not find any distinguishable characteristics between order and existence. To exist is to be ordered towards thing. To exist is to be ordered towards God vertically, towards creation horizontally, and away from chaos. God ordered creation and, by ordering it, brought it out of the chaos.
I do not think, unlike Augustine, that the darkness which God formed was a preexisting material. Without playing semantic tricks, it confuses the doctrinal necessity that God created out of nothing. It does not make it impossible, but simply confused. Since God is all powerful, he can only create and exist according to his own nature. But when God interacts with his creation, it is sometimes his nature to overstep the bounds which he set up for creation. This is what we call miracles or the supernatural (although to be frank, with the supernatural, I feel that it is simply another realm of creation, albeit a top-tier level, one with its own boundaries, restrictions, and laws). I could easily conceive of the act of Creation as having been one such miracle. When God created, he overstepped the future boundary of this creation that made something like ex nihilo impossible. This is in perfect accord with his relationship with his creation.
Knowing God, it is no surprise that he would do something which, by definition, is illogical to us. It is irrational, illogical, inexplicable that he would create out of nothing. That is the point. By creating out of nothing and overstepping the boundaries which he created, he proves that he is not bound by the boundaries of creation, but bound by his nature alone. It also proves that we are within this frame he has created and that in our limited life, we are unable to even conjure up any rule which governs the act of creating out of nothing. To God, who is above us and our rules and our reason, we can trust that he has set rules and boundaries even on that mystical act in the beginning, which we cannot see, but are in accord with his nature.
By saying all of this, I simply want to show that God did not subdue any sort of matter, which by definition is ordered, but subdued nothing, which is chaos. There was no preexisting matter that he drew from some temple in the heaven of heavens. I love Augustine, but that is an unnecessary absurdity. God made everything out of nothing. The act of creation was order. God fought nonexistence. Or rather, he subdued it.
There is an essential distinction between fighting and subduing. Where all other gods in all other creation myths have to go through some sort of struggle, the Creation of Yahweh is a pleasant labor. He enjoys himself. He created for his own pleasure, just as we create for our own. Who is going to ask God why he did it, when that person is unwilling to answer the question why he decided to first pick up the pencil? God fought nothing. He subdued nothing. Nothing is the foe, because nothing is the antithesis to God.
It is further proof of the eternity of the Trinity that he chose to fight nothing. Since the Trinity is pure existence, a being eternal, it has no other reasonable foe but nonexistence. They are not equal, for nothing is thoroughly inferior to the Trinity in its nonexistence. Nothing would have been fought had it been an equal to the Trinity, but it put up no fight. It was malleable enough to be ordered into a peaceful week.
Nothing is the great evil and we feel this as eternal beings. We feel it the most strongly, because to exist is to be eternal and to be eternal is to be a creation (for us) and to be a creation is to be in relationship with the Trinity. Anything, therefore, which exists is in relationship with God. So any creature which has broken a relationship with God is doomed to the eternal abyss, which is a broken relationship with God. A broken relationship is the greatest punishment, because as soon as we are dependent on ourselves for happiness and not God, we cease to exist and become self-edible. Those in the abyss are in the state of eternally eating themselves, like a blackhole. They do not exist.
While God subdued nothing, the war for our existence is a struggle. When the sin fell over Creation like a heavy stage curtain, childbirth ceased to be peace. Existing ceased to be peace. Losses occurred alongside all gains. Because of our broken relationship with God, we humans were forced to battle nothing again. The fall was a reversal of the Creation. Where God created out of nothing, creation was quickly slipping back into nothing. This is seen in the pains of Eve. This is seen in the losses of genealogies and the weakness of this existence that took the lives of so many possible forefathers. How many family trees might have existed, had there been no fall? How many children and so quickly? How many long lives, which gave more room for more people to have existed? In this long history of broken people, your presence was preserved like a small boat on a stormy sea. You can be seen thousand of years ago in the water that Moses drank, even if that is bordering a cliche. Your present has been around for a long time and it is only the sustaining hand of God that held back the forces of nothing, threatening to undo the thin thread of people that made your present possible. God has been with you since the beginning of time. He has ensured that you are here for a time.
And so, while life is most certainly a gift, it is also an escape. Everyone who is alive right now, who is part of this wide but shallow club, has escaped nothing. God has been there, again bringing creation out of nothing perpetually. Because when sin fell over Creation like a stone wedding gown, God was done resting and he has been at the scene ever since, cleaning up what we have ruined. God loves us and so that is why he continues to uphold creation, but if he took his hand away, creation would fall back into nothing from where it came. He has the power to forsake things, he has the power to remove his face from our presence. And if he does that, we cease to exist.
So why and how could anyone, seeing that existence is not only a gift but also a partial salvation, scorn God? He has given you a part of the great gift of relationship. And he has only asked us to wait, just a moment, for his return. And for the time being, we are to enjoy what we can here. And while it might seem like the scraps of a past paradise are before us, those scraps can sustain our gratitude for a lifetime. Thank you, God, for making our lives so short. There is too much for which to be grateful.
This is why the righteous wait. This is why waiting is righteousness. The righteous are waiting to give up on God. Those who are unrighteous are impatient. They do not want to wait on God. They ask the question “How long, o Lord?” and are impatient for the reply. Instead, they give up on God. But the righteous, they do not give up on God, but give themselves up to him. I picture the pleas of the saints asking “How long, o Lord?” going up as chimneys of smoke to heaven from an altar, all of the faces of the saints going up with the smoke, me there, and you.
There is an objection I have heard to God. It is perhaps the strongest of the great objections to God. It asks, “How could a loving God make some for destruction?”
This objection is short and has a game leg. Its primary fault lies in the fact that the person who asks it is not thinking of himself. When a man asks that, he is thinking of God (who he evidently does not understand), and he is thinking of a group of people who do not actually exist. He is thinking that some are made for vessels of destruction to glorify God.
What he does not realize is that these vessels of destruction are not doing anything against their will. God does not destroy them if they do not wish to be destroyed. God judges and loves for his own pleasure and because it pleases him, he has given us the decision to choose what we want.
The man must not think of this group who is led against their will, which do not exist, but of himself. He must think of himself, only, and God. And when he does that, the choice is clear. If he knows God well enough to make that sort of objection, he also knows the law of God. The law of God is written on his heart, otherwise he would be unable to treat God as a human in this way and place God under his mortal DIY ethical buttresses. The man knows that it is his choice to be a vessel of destruction. He can choose to be one. He knows how to become one. All he has to do is reject God, as a vessel of destruction might, because he does not like the frame which God places on him. Or, he can look past himself and embrace God and be a jar of clay. It is he who rejects God, not God he. From the beginning of time, it is the man who desired to reject God. Since justice is a good, the justice that vessel receives pleases God.
God is most pleased when all his creations receive what they desire. Some desire destruction, others dependence. In this way, God is glorified and pleased.
I thought of throwing all of this away. I had, in one way, too much difficulty writing it and, in another, too little. And perhaps I should have thrown it out. But someone wiser than myself once taught me that if you continually pour yourself out, you will continually be made full. I hope that by pouring this out, although I find it to be a thought as transient and paltry and unnecessary as the next, I will be filled with yet more thoughts that can be poured. Of writing books there will be no end.