One of the lines in the psalms for the Office on Sunday caught my attention.:
There is the sea, vast and wide,
With its moving swarms past counting,
Living things great and small.
The ships are moving there
And the monsters you made to play with.”
We all carry around with us an image of God, made up of what God has revealed to us and what we have imposed on God from our own experience or prejudice. I wonder how many of us have as part of our image the God who plays with the monsters of the deep? The God-who-plays is here described in Scripture.
It reminded me of an interview I once heard with Eddie Izzard. He said didn’t believe in God because of the dinosaurs. What God could put up with the millions of years of eating and sleeping creatures? But the Bible tells us God is a God who plays with the monsters of the deep. Eddie Izzard might be a very funny comedian but he isn’t a man who’s imagination stretches to a God who delights in playing with monsters. Millions of years of gliding and soaring with the Pterosaurs or swimming with the ichthyosaurs. Millions of years of wandering with the stegosaurus or running with the Coelophysis, a vast playground.
The psalm goes on to say:
All of these look to you to give them their food in due season,
You give it they gather it up:
You open your hand, they have their fill.
This is psalm that talks about God’s delight in Creation and his abundant out-pouring of the gift of life. At the beginning of the Psalm it talks of God wrapping himself in light and wearing the waters as a coat. This is an intimate picture of the relationship between Creator and Creation. God wrapped up in creation, giving it life, playing at its heart. This is the God whose love always moves outwards, always gives, is always self-giving.
Yesterday I was re-reading some of Alexander Schmemeann’s “For the Life of the World”, a book I return to again and again. In the chapter on the Eucharist he says the art, beauty and music in liturgy are there because it is an act of love:
“When expecting someone whom we love, we put on a beautiful tablecloth on the table and decorate it…not out of necessity but out of love. And the Church is love, expectation and joy. It is heaven on earth, according to…Orthodox tradition; it is the joy of recovered childhood, that free unconditional and disinterested joy, which alone is capable of transforming the world.”
He goes on to quote Romano Guardini who says of liturgy :
“It is in the highest sense the life of a child, in which everything is picture, melody and song. Such is the wonderful fact which the liturgy demonstrates: it unites act and reality in a supernatural childhood before God.”
A God who plays with the monsters of the deep and who wraps himself in the light and waters of creation, invites us into a ‘love, expectation and joy’ that is ‘supernatural childhood before God.’