In the beginning

In the beginning… 

That’s how the story starts, isn’t it? 

In the beginning, when there was only darkness and no consciousness, and all around was a warm sea… In the beginning, there was mother – mother, in whose body you were sheltered and nurtured and prepared and formed until, at last, you were ready to burst into the daylight. You drew your first air – inspired – became spirit filled - and – with your first sound - announced your arrival. 

It was a new world – a new creation. All sight was new, all sounds, all smells… And there was mother

“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.” 

In the beginning, the universe was an infinitely small point the emptiness. It was infinitely dense, infinitely small, and unimaginably hot. In an instant were formed all forms of matter and energy, as well as space and time itself. 

Whatever religious or scientific or mythological stories we may believe, the undeniably reality is that each of us was born into this life and that each of us has made it through to be here this day. 

We have survived illness, harsh weather, people with bad intentions, cars running through zebras without stopping… we have beaten the odds since our births in many ways just to be here, breathing, aware, alive on this day in April 2011. 

Going back further in time, we might begin to understand just how unlikely we are – and how miraculous it is that we are here. 

In the moments after the Universe was created – when an infinitely small, dense, and hot Universe began to expand and create all matter and energy, a nearly infinite number of alternative paths were possible. 

Many of the paths would have led to a universe that would have collapsed upon itself. Most of those paths would not have led to the creation of planets. Even fewer of those paths would have led to the creation of the earth. 

Fewer still would have allowed life to form on the earth. Only the most improbable of possibilities would have led to the life form we know as human. And a narrow, supremely unlikely path led to the encounter of your father and your mother – the mother who bore you in her body for many months, who endured much and gave much for the creation of your life. 

And we are here today – vastly improbable – the beneficiaries of a nearly infinite number of time’s decision points that went our way. 

I have recently engaged in some discussion about truth. Some would say that it is important we only believe what is actually and absolutely true – that beliefs must be credible, demonstrable, and solidly grounded in tradition. 

As a scientist, “truth” has always been a high value for me – when establishing scientific truth, an observation must be measurable and reproducible. 

In the very different sphere of life of spirit, of relationship, of meaning, my perspective alters. I have responded to those who would claim other beliefs as false that I am content to measure the value of a belief by its effect on the people who hold it. 

I would far prefer that we all believe something false that makes us loving, compassionate, and generous than something true that makes us cruel and selfish. 

How the universe began is a matter of some debate. In the US, there are people who would have schools teach the biblical version of the story in place of the scientific one. I would, of course, want children to know the story that best represents what science currently teaches. 

I don’t mind at all though if they learn some wonderfully imaginative and poetic stories too – the biblical one, or perhaps the story of the Goddess Nuwa. 

At the end though, I would want them and us to recognize the extraordinariness – the improbability – the gift – the blessing – the wonder – the miracle – that we are here today.

Our lives are precious and unique. Whether put here for a reason or simply the result of fortuitous accident of untold chances of fate, here we are. 

This fact inspires me to treasure this life of mine and those lives of yours. How can we waste a life, or a year, or even a day of this extraordinary gift we have received. 

As poet Mary Oliver asks, “what is it you would do with your one wild and precious life?” 

Our answer must be loving. 

Our response to our lives must be gratitude and wonder. 

 

Litany of Gratitude

In a lonely formless, void, a point of matter and energy came into being and – in an instant - created all that there is 

 

I am grateful for me. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for all. 


Matter and time began, and, as aeons passed, from this primordial chaos, gases coalesced to form stars 

 

I am grateful for me. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for all. 

 

Stars in their violent combustion threw off more matter to create cooler masses, asteroids, moons, and planets

I am grateful for me. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for all. 

 

This planet – covered mainly with water – blessed with the right location and the right elemental soup - was the site of an extraordinary flash of change. The dust of the stars came to life. 

I am grateful for me. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for all. 

 

In time, life came to consciousness, and it knew itself. It looked about and knew that it was good. 

I am grateful for me. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for all. 

 

And a child was born – a sacred life like all others – never to be taken for granted, a precious gift never to be wasted, a blessing never to be discounted, a miracle to be treasured always. 

I am grateful for me. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for all.