I’m pretty sure that if I had taken Geology 101 before Theology 101, I’d be a hydrologist instead of a pastor, so maybe I am drawn to Teilhard de Chardin because he was a geologist-theologian. When I walk through the ravines, I think of the long years of erosion that carved the landscape, and when I enter a cave or ascend a rock formation, I wonder how many millions of years ago those metamorphic, sedimentary and volcanic layers formed. As a geologist on the cusp of the twentieth century, Teilhard de Chardin was part of an era of scientific discovery that led him to say, “once upon a time everything seemed fixed and solid. Now, everything in the universe has begun to slide under our feet: mountains, continents, life, and even matter itself.” In a time when life feels again unearthed, and change is ever present, his words bring a sort of kindred solace.
You can hear in his prayer an attentiveness to his body, his questions about the source of life, his sense that God takes part in the creative action of the earth. His father was a distant relative of French physicist—theologian Blaise Pascal and his mother was a distant relative of French author-philosopher Voltaire, so you can hear in his genealogy even, the long influence of his dual love for God and the earth. He said, “there is a communion with God through the earth…the bosom of Mother Earth is in some way, the bosom of God.”
May you continue to meet God as you walk the ravines, riversides, lakeshores, and forested paths in the heat of the summer.
Let us pray:
In the life which wells up in me and in the matter which sustains me,
I find much more than Your gifts.
It is You Yourself that I find,
You who makes me participate in your being,
You who molds me.
Truly in the ruling and in the first disciplining of my living strength,
in the continually beneficent play of secondary causes,
I touch, as near as possible,
the two faces of Your creative action,
and I encounter, and kiss, Your two marvelous hands—
the ones which hold us so firmly that it is merged,
in us, with the sources of life,
and the other whose embrace is so wide that,
at its slightest pressure,
all the springs of the universe respond harmoniously together.
—Teilhard de Chardin, 1881–1955
Tomorrow, we continue a 9 week study on the Lord’s prayer: online Wednesdays at 9 a.m. We hope you will join us.