Darkness, Void, Wind--Light
Week 1, Day 2
Tuesday: Genesis 1. 1-5
“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”
In ancient Near Eastern mythology, and especially for those nations who didn’t “go down to the sea in ships” (Psalm 107.23) the sea was a place of threat and danger; the realm of terrifying monsters. In the Babylonian creation story, the Enuma Elish, for instance, Marduk, the patron god of Babylon, does bloody battle with Tiamat, the sea goddess. Marduk disables Tiamat with his “evil wind” and then divides her body in two. With half he forms the sky and with half he makes the dry land.
Here we begin to see the “spiritual genius” of our Creation story. We do not serve a violent, bloodthirsty God. When God creates the heavens and the earth in the beginning the earth is formless and the sea is just that—deep, restless water. A “wind from God”—not Marduk’s “evil wind” the but breath, the Spirit, the “ruach” of God moves over the waters, bringing a calm stillness (the Hebrew word “ruach” can be translated wind, breath or spirit).
This Breath/Spirit of God, (often called the “Wisdom” of God and always a feminine character in the Bible, by the way, (Proverbs 8. 22-31)), sets the stage for what follows. Peace descends on the roiling darkness.
“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light”.
This Creator God is not an anxious character; not one to be looking over the Divine shoulder watching for enemies. This Lord is God; and there is no other (Isaiah 45.5). This God lays aside the sword and creates instead by the spoken word. God speaks, the story says; the light appears. And we see—there is no one who will challenge the Creator. “The Lord our God, the Lord is One”. (Deuteronomy 6.4)
Just so, there is no one to challenge or to threaten us; no enemy lurking below the surface of our lives. Our anxiety is stilled, as were the waters of Creation, by the Breath of God over us and in us. Our darkness is made light by the Word of God—to whom darkness and light are one and the same (Psalm 139.2).
Prayer: Holy Breath, breathe your stillness into our restlessness. Calm our storms and dispatch the monsters hiding there. And when we are overcome by our darkness bring the comfort of your light into our lives. Amen.