Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Soot

You can read the short story below, or click this link and hear me read it to you.


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He without name, He with all names, individual and triune, breathed into the void. Below the level of the atom, quarks were sung into being, one dimensional strings, three voices singing a song of creation. Matter came to be.

The watchers, mighty and majestic, powerful and devoted, observed.

Before there was light, the Lord God set the stage. Hot, dark plasma filled all there was, the four dimensions were a seething soup of stripped nuclei.

As it cooled it condensed; the dance began. Hydrogen swirled and eddied and condensed further, pressing upon itself. Under pressure it fused, hydrogen into helium, the fire of fusion burned, stars were born. In the hot pressure within massive stars triple collisions of helium fused into carbon, the sooty source of life.

The giant stars, finished with their meals of hydrogen and helium, exploded in brilliant self immolation, flinging newly formed carbon into the universe. The spinning galaxies, rotating about once every 200 million years, swept the carbon up, soot joining light.

Dusty lanes of soot danced and swirled, flowed and poured into gravity-fed streams, backed into eddies, settled into clumps, became rocks, became worlds. Again compression settled in, the next generation of stars ignited. In their whiter light, they threw off the shroud of soot wrapping newborn worlds. But this time the stuff of life was there, ready for the larger dance to begin.

Darkness clung upon the world, a sooty darkness as pregnant with potential as the primordial darkness of the plasma soup before the birth of stars. Within the darkness The Lord God moved over the face of the deep.

The watchers, powerful forces, powerful beings, watched intently as the dance truly began.

It was the beginning and the Lord God said: “Let there be light,” and The Word went out over the deep, and there was light.

The carbon dropped out of the sky and sunlight filtered through glowering clouds. The moon backlit the sky, illuminating blackened hills, charred mountains.

And it was good.

The Lord God spoke, His Word went out, and it rained. The clouds rolled across the angry skies, seas rolled onto rough beaches. The carbon, swept by angry waves and poured into the depths. Water flowed in seas great and small. Water rolled across the sky.

And it was good.

The Lord God spoke, His Word moved into the world, and carbon formed chains. It made walls, and sugars, and the basics of organic chemistry. It became the stuff of life. Plants swayed in soils of land and sea. Carbon shuffled to the quicker dance of life. From gas to solids, carbon dioxide and cellulose, structures and strength. The soot, born of darkness, and born of light, became the backbone of all living things.

If there had been mortal eyes to see the strangeness of this scene they would have beheld a wonder profound. Immortals drew near. They came to behold ephemeral things, growing in muck, in sludge and soot and mud and clay. Beings of ancient experience watched intently, singing their praise of existence, of simply being, as the Lord God permitted the earth to spin, a tiny mote amidst a wild and violent universe, while green things reached with thin tendrils toward the glowing sky. Suddenly there were flowers and fruit and all sorts of carbon-based life.

And it was good.

The Lord God spoke, His Word moved through the world and another wonder occurred. The skies parted, the air cleared, and the thick shield of clouds was shattered. Brilliant light flooded the earth, throwing abundance where there had been shadow and darkness. The soot was balanced with bright flecks, all the elements of the earth were churned and dragged from the rocks by the pushing, shoving dance of green life. Soil.

Beings who had only known the slow dance of the galaxies creeping along the hidden paths of the universe, watched, fascinated, as The Creator mixed the elements of the world with water and light.

And it was good.

The Lord God spoke, His Word moved through the world, and quick life sprang up. Monsters of the deep, monsters of the land. Smaller versions also sprang up, lifting newly feathered wings to flit in the sunlight. Carbon formed tough, resilient structures, muscle, sinew, blood.

Blood was new, quick, hot. New mixtures to bring caustic oxygen to life. Carbon and water, iron and oxygen. The dance whirled into a faster tempo. Carbon, the ancient soot of dying stars danced ever faster, swinging through cycles of fruit and flesh and exhaled breath. Soot mingled with light, mingled with life. Light and dark... the melody that drove the dance picked up its tempo.

A great chorus arose from the watchers as the wonders of quick nature whirled through the pace of seasons, swinging from life to life, plant and flesh and air and again and again and again.

And it was good.

The Lord God spoke, His Word moved among the earth, and life was gentled. The monsters retreated, and in their vacancies softer animals sprang up. Livestock. Good for a different sort of existence, moved into the fields, ate of the grasses and the fruits.

The chorus paused. A few murmured. What new thing was the Lord God creating? For what purpose should there be creatures designed to be dominated, controlled, herded? Why should there be gentled life?

Two thirds of the great chorus sang on. One third hesitated. A lone voice rose in dissent.

The Lord God spoke.

His Word moved.

A very new thing was created.

Out of the very dust of creation, from the soot of dying stars, the mud of the earth, a man, a woman.

For an eternity the universe stopped. For no time at all and for all time at once the universe swept its awareness toward the speck of spinning dirt, the mote circling a nondescript star, in an outer arm of an ordinary spiral galaxy... light and darkness, eternal and mortal, sinews and spirit, human beings walked with the Lord God in a quiet corner of creation.

The watchers erupted in light beyond the dimensions of reality. Their voices sang of wonder, and a few of anger. A new being was a part of The Kingdom. A new type of creature, one who could choose, was a part of The Grand Community. Humans, capable of choice, capable of sin, were now permitted the opportunity to enter The Kingdom.

The watchers divided, some voices singing in wonder, other voices were singing in pride and anger.

The Lord God, the Spirit of all creation, the Living Word, moved through the universe, moved through time and space, and permitted choice to enter the great dance.

And it was very good.

Carbon discovered new roles in the new dance. It danced with iron, in blood, but now it also danced in tools and weapons. It danced from fruit to man, to air, to tree to fire and air again. It sprang from living thing to living thing. It flowed in blood and sap, it supported leaves and it supported flesh. It fed the whale and livestock and beasts and now beings with eternal souls.

With choices men learned to live for more than the joy of life. They learned to want what others had, possessions, mates, land. They forgot The Kingdom, and strove for kingdoms. Victory and glory and pride became forces which drove ambition.

A third of the watchers gloated, and sang dark, sooty songs of pride, and avarice, and the hatred of souls coupled with flesh.

The carbon danced its frantic dance. It became a part of hundreds of thousands of living things in a single spin of the galaxy. It was a part of the air, and part of trees. It had been in chains with other carbon atoms as lipids, and cellular structures. The pace of the dance was a whirling spin through life, in the air, in the sea, on and in the land.

The Lord God spoke, and The Word moved into the world. What was eternal was now flesh, mortal. As flesh had been raised up to where it could hold a soul, spirit, eternity, eternity had slipped into base reality and clothed itself in flesh.

The miracle was reversed. The Word breathed, ate, drank. The wonder of eternity creating the finite was now that the finite housing eternity. The Word crawled into the world through the womb of a young woman. Mystery beyond words, beyond imagining.

Most of the watchers sang with all the power of their existence at the reversal. The universe itself trembled as the all powerful set aside glory, a wedge of power and light and love slipping into an ever smaller container, a needle slipping into a haystack.

A few watchers howled in frustration. This step of blurring the lines between what is temporal and what is eternal turned their once glorious song to a shrieking roar.

The Word breathed in air, exhaled carbon. The Word consumed and excreted. Eternity took soot within itself, and showing creation the possibility of the divine living within flesh.

The Word moved through a world filled with anger, hatred, hope, and despair. The Word picked fruit, and ran calloused hands over wood with the strength of soot forged in the heart of dying stars.

Carbon that had floated between stars which supported algae under thunderous clouds, had flowed through the veins of monsters, and quickened in the sinews of livestock, the fruit of pomegranates and figs, the waving grains of wheat, now fed God, the Living Word. It had floated from the breath of a king and had been absorbed by a leaf on a dogwood tree before an empire had swept through the land. It had held tight to water and other carbon and supported a small part of a fiber which once guided water to leaves. That wood was cut and dried and shaped.

The Word moved through the lives of ordinary men, ordinary women. People who held souls, sparks from eternity clothed in sooty flesh. People who loved The Lord, and people who loved only themselves. People who loved power and tradition and wealth. People who wanted to kill The Word.

The angry watchers, the shriekers in the dark, whispered to those who hated The Word. And those who loved power and tradition and wealth listened.

He Who had started a good work, He Who had made stars and life, waited patiently as they laid hands on flesh and bone and dragged Him to judgment. He Who had sung creation into being and had forged carbon and sparked life within monsters and men, knelt humbly beneath the whip.

And they dragged Him to that piece of timber, that beam lying in the dirt. Soot of stars, clinging to its neighbors within the fibers of a piece of wood, rested beside God incarnate.

Iron and oxygen, hydrogen and carbon, flowed bright red from pierced hands, flooding the wood. Carbon born in the mind of divinity met with carbon supporting the muscles and sinews of divinity incarnate.

And the universe shuddered.

Reality split. Darkness cried out in the anguish of battle lost. A door opened between the finite and the infinite.

Soot which had flowed between stars, between lives, served now as a part of a crude bridge between Heaven and Hell.

And it was good.


22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Extremely well done.

Very Powerful!!

And thank you for your prayers Will. They are welcomed.
After the first round of testing, I was diagnosed with Hypertension and am begining my new medication.
Next week, I will have blood work, stress test and X-Rays.
Hopefully, the blood pressure is my only issue.
I have all but eliminated my coffee intake (per doctors' instructions) and will soon be taking a prescription to assist me in quitting smoking.

I would ask you to say a prayer for my sister, Natalie, who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and faces surgery in January.

Thanks again my friend!
Be well.

Justin

curious servant said...

Certainly, my friend.

bornfool said...

I'm at a lack for an original comment. Let me just say that that was good, real good. I imagine your description is as close as our finite minds can get to the story of creation.

squirrel said...

Awesome! Did you make that up yourself?! The science of creation!

curious servant said...

Yes... I wrote this. I read a lot of science, read a lot of the Bible. I started writing this at our little retreat at the coast this past weekend (see previous post) and finished it last night.

I'm glad you liked it.

jollybeggar said...

hey will
awesome piece. bless you for synthesizing your science, your aesthetics and your faith with such poignance.

my friend's wife passed on wednesday...

http://northvus.blogspot.com/2006/12/lost-diary-of-mr-jones.html

Akinola Akinyede said...

Thanks for dropping by at my blog and leaving a comment there.

Pia said...

you've written it so well. just like what bornfool said, your description is as close as our finite minds can get to the story of creation.

ukok said...

You're a class act Curious :-)

curious servant said...

That is such a kind thing to say!

Thank you.

Fred said...

Wow - a long, powerful, insightful post. Nothing new, of course.

Thanks for making me think, as usual.

jollybeggar said...

hey will
thanks for your spiritual sensitivity...

we lost my nephew yesterday in a freak car accident. the only son of my wife's brother who died in july03, this branch of the family name has been effectively severed.

your prayers are, as usual, greatly coveted and appreciated.

http://northvus.blogspot.com/2006/12/us-and-them-is-there-anybody-in-there.html

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