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When Chemistry became Biology

What are we made of?

night sky

photo by Michael Halloran

the stuff of stars
the elements of the periodic table
concocted of chemicals that explode,
ions that interact,
molecules that relate.

We are the stuff of life.
No more, no less
and yet.

Yet,
we think, and move
and have our being.

Somehow we animated,
went from sketch to living color.
Our chemistry became biology,
we moved from dead in our tracks
to alive and well.

Well, not so well.

Our chemistry is faulty, we say,
prone to pesticides and processed to pieces.
Our environment does us in, we say,
nothing to be done about the ways of the world.
Our bodies betray us, we say,
resenting the long hours and little pay.

Who would fault us for losing hope in them?

Except,
the One who made us,
who imagined our being.

The chemist who
connected our elements,
shaped our molecules,
formulated our reactions,
exploded our contents.

This One,
the only one present when
our chemistry became our biology.

When we came to life.

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Perfectly Proportioned

Why is it that 10 inches of new powder on the mountain delights and 10 inches piled high on my driveway derides? Same lovely white sparkle. Same fluffy consistency. Same complete coverage of everything in sight. The difference: perspective. One, I am meant to go out and play in. The other, I must plow through so I can get about my business.

This hits me like a 2×4, having just returned home from a brief skiing vacation in Utah. There, we stayed at the home of some friends at a virtual ski lodge nestled in hills near Park City. Sitting at the breakfast table my view of the mountains through the three story great room window was magnificent. Peak after peak of white, punctuated with evergreens, framed against an azure sky. Nothing compares, yet we haven’t even headed up the mountain. Mountains

I am completely dwarfed sitting there. In awe of the mountains and sky, yes, but also in this lodge of a home. Perhaps because mountain majesty rains in on all sides, the homes are gigantic, the expanse of windows taking advantage of every opportunity to show it off. This means the inside is beyond spacious. And so it must be filled to its proportions: furniture is large and plentiful, wall decoration gratuitous, chandeliers and lighting extensive, walkways and hallways and stairwells built to match. Even the kitchen decor has extra. Extra high cabinets, extra counter space, an extra dishwasher, automatic everything. Even the dishware seems pageantry, not a small bowl or a saucer in the lot. Everything is supersized.

And sitting in its midst I feel very, very small. Majesty does this to you. It right-sizes you. But this home, this lodge draws a caution from me. When we live large, we furnish large, appoint large, accessorize large. Because it fits. And living in that space, what’s large seems just right. Because in proportion to all that’s around it, it is. Try to take a picture to demonstrate the largess and you can’t; everything is in proportion. It doesn’t look large at all.

And isn’t that the nature of the “relative.” Proportion is established by comparison. Oh, it’s not that big compared to his house. It’s not that expensive compared to her dress. It’s not that extravagant compared to their vacation. Humans compare. And we will always fall short. But we keep up so we carry on.

helium balloonStrangely and very lamentably, the view from the breakfast table started to lose its luster by the 3rd day. Still gorgeous, it was no longer breathtaking like it was on the first. I had gotten “used” to it. I was more animated by changes to its look: sunrise glow and sunset amber, a helium balloon taking off, incoming clouds that brought that powder. Much as I had become accustomed to the accommodations: where the light switches were, which bowls to use and how to work the coffee maker.

sunset

Grandeur may grab us but life is what drives us, whether to swoosh through the powder or shovel it in high drifts. Many things out there will right-size us, thank God. But because we do tend to get carried away and not even know it, I am so grateful to have the One thing at the center which doesn’t change in size or shape or price or composition. It is so important for our sense of comparison to have something against which all can be measured fairly and accurately and honestly.

One thing that didn’t diminish in that lovely Park City setting was the dark morning sky; pitch, sprinkled with twinkle and glow. The new moon leaning away shyly from the bold glow of a planet, perhaps Jupiter or Venus? early morning lightsEach of the mornings I tiptoed down the wide staircase while all others were asleep and peered out the back picture window. The stars smiled back in greeting with a perfect “W” – the constellation Cassiopeia. I supposed it was for W-endy.

That God, having some fun. Just dashed off a little note for me on the stationery of the morning sky. “Dear child, before you were born I put the lights in the sky. They are mine as you are mine.” Such a small gesture for a God so large, yet so tender, loving and intimate.

Perhaps, had I wandered outside under those stars I would have heard Him chuckle and say, “If she loves this, wait till she sees the room I have prepared for her.”

Leftovers for God

I’ve always had a bit of trouble with this story told in both Matthew and Mark’s gospels of a Canaanite woman who pleads with Jesus for help to save her demon-possessed daughter and ends up begging for even the crumbs from His table.

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”   ~ Matthew 15:22-28

Today I am thinking about how many times this is exactly what I offer my Lord. The crumbs from my table. The leftovers when I’m done with my meal, done with my work, done with my day.

This morning I woke early. I had heard there was a meteor shower that could be viewed before sunrise and the skies would be clear. I stepped out into the cold and the dark of the morning and looked upon the most lovely of twinkling lights. Constellations in every direction. Darkness interrupted by pinpoints of glistening magnificence. Not a meteor to be found, but I stood in awe, surveying the broad expanse of the masterpiece displayed on the canvas of the pre-dawn sky. Every light perfect. Clarity that defies any human light, any human sound, any human thought.

And the words of songs and hymns, of prayers and psalms sprung from …from where? I’m not sure. They were an impromptu offering. I was praising a God who provided this wonder every morning, first thing. Before He attended to anything else. God’s first fruits, just for me, just now.

And here am I, offering Him the crumbs.

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