Self-conscious spacetime

I’ve been praying through Ernesto Cardenal’s “Cosmic Canticle” (481 pages) with ever-increasing awe – and yes, I have to say it, quite decidedly religious awe. Heavens, literally! – here’s wind in my wheels. I’ve long sensed, and still sense, deeply, and always and everywhere, that our humanity is on the cusp of one of the greatest evolutionary leaps it has ever known, and I am spiritually awestruck – and grateful for the perception:

100,000 million galaxies can be seen through telescopes now …

There are numbers in the universe which cannot be written
except with a universe of zeros.
In spite of everything you are important, you, molecular structures
on a middling planet of a common or garden star
in a suburb of an average galaxy.
We are self-conscious spacetime.
We are the explanation of the Cosmos according to Hawking.
We are the mid-point between atoms and the stars
and between the mini-particle and the observed universe.
– The decidedly strange form of the human body

Ernesto Cardenal
Cosmic Canticle, p208

Yes: I believe the prayer-book canticle, “Christ is the image of the unseen God” – Colossians 1.15.

My entire life has depended upon this Christ. But this Christ, the Christ, is not ‘just’ the homely, humanly church-tameable Jesus, carefully and deliberately holed up within the walls of ‘church’, the Christ who appears – to some – to appear only between the pages of a somehow infallible scripture or prayer book. This Christ, the Christ, is Christos, the ‘Anointed’ of whom Richard Rohr has written – here –

“The Primal Anointing – “Christening” – of all matter with Spirit, which began in Genesis 1:1-2, is called “the Christ” in Christian shorthand.”

– and of whom, of himself, Jesus of Nazareth spoke when he said “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (… and the works that you have seen me do, you can do too …). The Cosmic Christ, the Source of the universe’s evolving, is, as Richard Holloway once famously described him, a “tombstone roller” – here.

And we’re all, absolutely and universally, evolving. So we can absolutely and universally own “faith” – even where we’re unable, in company with billions, to subscribe to an understanding of a particular religion. Cosmic faith. “Cosmic Christ.” Cosmic Canticle. There are numbers in the universe which cannot be written. But the “primal anointing” in all of us tells us that

“In spite of everything you are important …”


Yesterday I posted part of Ernesto Cardenal’s translation of Psalm 19 – a hymn to Creation on the grand scale. Today I’ve been reading his 1970 book Love. With what Thomas Merton’s appreciative Preface describes as his ‘lucid and “Franciscan” simplicity’ Cardenal sees Love at the heart of, literally, everything – even when it doesn’t recognise itself. And such a proposition gives rise to pause and contemplation. Really? Love at the heart of everything? Which led me to thoughts about essence – that which Jesus said ought not to be kept hidden beneath a bushel – which led me back to Danna Faulds:

Who you are

Who you are is so much more than what you do. The essence, shining through the heart, soul, and center, the bare and bold truth of you does not lie in your to-do list. You are not just at the surface of your skin, not just the impulse to arrange the muscles of your face into a smile or a frown, not just boundless energy, or bone wearying fatigue. Delve deeper. You are divinity; the vast and open sky of spirit. It’s the light of God, the ember at your core, the passion and the presence, the timeless, deathless essence of you that reaches out and touches me. Who you are transcends fear and turns suffering into liberation. Who you are is love.

Danna Faulds
Go In and In

Essence and remembrance. Keywords – and key people – I’ll be returning to here.


Nicaraguan liberation theologian Ernesto Cardenal renders the opening verses of Psalm 19 thus:

The galaxies sing the glory of God
and Arcturus 20 times larger than the sun
and Antares 487 times more brilliant than the sun
Dorado Sigma with a brightness of 300,000 suns
and Orion Alpha which is equal
to 27,000,000 suns
Aldebaran with its diameter of 32 million miles
Lyra Alpha 300,000 light years away
and the nebula of Boyer
200 million light years away
all announce the work of your hands …

Ernesto Cardenal
Psalms of Struggle and Liberation
Burns and Oates

And here in my little space I observe that, far from being discomfited by universal enormity, I rest in the strength of the Creator of such a context, and in the gentleness of the same One to Whom both psalmist and translator address the prayer at the Psalm’s conclusion: “may the words of my poems be pleasing to you / Lord my Liberator”.