I’m not entirely sure why, but this afternoon (after a walk around Green Lake in Seattle and sitting down to a double tall americano on Greenwood Ave), the notion of creation popped into my head. I am certain that at least part of it had to do with the sun shining brightly and the spring finally rearing its illusive head. It feels new…again. But what about the first time, where there wasn’t a ‘before’ or ‘the last time’? It makes me think of the conversations I’ve had in my life, even recently, where people somehow are surprised to find out that I believe in A Creation. And here is the scary truth: not just intelligent design, but full on Creation. (And no, this is not going to be a post about my quasi-complicated and physics-based conception of the infancy of the time-space continuum created by a knowable-yet-unknowable omnipresent and infini-temporal being). I chuckled remembering people of all sorts immediately renouncing my ‘delusion’ and scoffing at my belief in such a strange ‘mythos.’ I chuckle, because….its ok. I don’t mind, and I get where they are coming from. Anyway, back to this beautiful afternoon and the thought at hand…
So as I sat there in the sun, three creations came to my head that I have absolutely loved throughout my life, and I’d like to share them. These are probably not the creations you are expecting, ones pertaining to varioushuman religions, but creations described as only the great writers of our age can. Perhaps they are familiar to you, or maybe they are new. In either case, it is good to read and wonder anew.
1. The Music of the Ainur
– from The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein
There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony.
And it came to pass that Ilúvatar called together all the Ainur and declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the splendour of its end amazed the Ainur, so that they bowed before Ilúvatar and were silent.
Then Iluvatar said to them: ‘Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been awakened into song.’
Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Iluvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Iluvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went into the void, and it was not void.
2. The First Voice
– from The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it…
Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars… You would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves who were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.
Johannes Kepler would have loved reading that I am sure.
3. The Blessing of El-ahrirah
– from Watership Down by Richard Adams
Long ago, Frith made the world. He made all the stars, too, and the world is one of the stars. He made them by scattering his droppings over the sky and this why the grass and the trees grow so thick on the world. Frith makes the rivers flow. They follow him as he goes through the sky, and when he leaves the sky they look for him all night. Frith made all the animals and birds, but when he first made them they were all the same. The sparrow and the kestrel were friends and they both ate seeds and flies. And the fox and the rabbit were friends and they both ate grass. And there was plenty of grass and plenty of flies, because the world was new and Frith shone down bright and warm all day.
Now, El-ahrairah was among the animals in those days and he had many wives. He had so many wives that there was no counting them, and the wives had so many young that even Frith could not count them, and they ate the grass and the dandelions and the lettuces and the clover, and El-ahrairah was the father of them all. …after a time the grass began to grow thiin and the rabbits wandered everywhere, multiplying and eating as they went.
Then Frith said to El-ahrairah, ‘Prince Rabbit, if you cannot control your people, I shall find ways to control them. So mark what I say.’ But El-ahrairah would not listen and he said to Frith, ‘My people are the strongest in the world, for they breed faster and eat more than any of the the other people. And this shows how much they love Lord Frith, for of all the animals they are the most responsive to his warmth and brightness. You must realize, my lord, how important they are and not hinder them in their beautiful lives.’
Not really appreciating what El-ahrairah says, Frith calls other creatures together and bestows upon them gifts (i.e. blackbird: a beautiful song, cow: sharp horns and fearlessness), but special gifts of cunning, fierceness, and the desire to hunt and slay the children of El-ahrairah were given to the fox, stoat and weasel. El-ahrairah becomes afraid and realizes that Frith is indeed more clever than him, and thus when Frith comes to bestow a gift unto El-ahrairah, he sticks his head in a hole with his bottom sticking out…
Frith called out, ‘My friend, have you seen El-ahrairah, for I am looking for him to give him my gift?’ ‘No,’ answered El-ahrairah, without coming out, ‘I have not seen him. He is far away. He could not come.’ So Frith said, ‘Then come out of that hole and I will bless you instead of him.’ ‘No, I cannot,’ said El-ahrairah, ‘I am busy. The fox and the wasel are coming. If you want to bless me you can bless my bottom, for it is sticking out of the hole.’
…Frith felt himself in friendship with El-ahrairah, because of his resourcefulness, and because he would not five up even when he thought the fox and the weasel were coming. And he said, ‘Very well, I will bless your bottom as it sticks out of the hole. Bottom be strength and warning and speed forever and save the life of your master. Be it so!’ And as he spoke, El-ahrairah’s tail grew shining white and flashed like a star: and his back legs grew long and powerful and he thumped the hillside until the very beetles fell off the grass stems. He came out of the hole and tore across the hill faster than any creature in the world. And Frith called after him ‘El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so. Al the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.’ And El-ahrairah knew then that although he would not be mocked, yet Frith was his friend. And every evening, when Frith has done his day’s work and lies calm and easy in the red sky, El-ahrairah and his children and his children’s children come out of their holes and fee and play in his sight, for they are his friends and he has promised them that they can never be destroyed.
These creations are indeed beautiful and joyful. I think the most poignant one to me personally is the Lewis creation, probably because of my life in music. My mother would read these Narnia stories to me and my brothers (…The Magician’s Nephew was always my favorite, I loved Digory and Polly), and when Aslan opened his mouth to sing – it was the most real and magical possibility. I couldn’t have imagined it more beautifully. Perhaps I still in my heart believe the world was sung into existence and the harmony of the spheres remains as a remnant echo of that first song.