Stories – that’s what we do. Whenever we describe ourselves, our environment, our families, we’re telling a story. When we share our ups, downs and all-rounds, we’re weaving words together in order to create a connexion – a narrative – that makes sense not only to ourselves, but to those with whom we are in conversation!
Christianity – as theological expression, as a journey of a people, reflecting the confidence, doubts & hopes of men and women – is a story. One of the most powerful images of that story – or metaphors – for me has been Paul’s description of Christianity as reflected as the Body of Christ. Though Paul uses the image more than once, for me the following from Corinthians has been powerful both as image and that to which to aspire:
As I have journeyed in my own deepening of faith and relationship with the ministry to which I think Jesus calls, I have experienced that the metaphor has been further enriched by Quantum Physics. Not to misrepresent the science which underpins the mechanics of the quantum, I have come to deeply appreciate that it demonstrates that at the fundamental level that unifies reality everything is – in fact – one. As I have wrestled with this revelation – if you will – then the Body of Christ takes on both the aspect of metaphor and the metaphysical. The mystical idea of the union with God, for me, seems poetically articulated through the actuality of the Quantum.
Recently, I have found that my appreciation of the metaphor has moved, been amplified, augmented as well by a recent article from National Geographic on microbes, which falls into a Newtonian model of physics. The Body of Christ is a metaphor of the Christian story. As a Brother in the faith has recently reminded me, as he seeks to complement his Divinity training by returning to university to further explore science, our faith and reason must not be compartmentalised. In fact, as he has shared his own challenges for post-modern Christianity, we lose the breadth of how our species’ rational deductions– we might use the word epiphany or revelation – help to refine, sharpen and/or clarify our theology in an age when we can weigh and measure that which is found at the Planck scale of reality. To be clear, both intellect and faith must be appreciated as complementary to one another, in order for new insights into our relationship with the Holy to be further understood.
Okay – back to microbes – I admit this further appreciation of the image of the Body of Christ is not fully formulated, so this blog is simply a place to begin to try to share what feels profound. In this article, in one of the shiny diagrams that only NG can do, it states that only 1 in 10 cells of the human body is human! The rest? Yep – you got it: microbes!
What’s a microbe? I did a little informal facebook query and I had a range of comments from the mirthful small mic(rophone) that might be on my robe during worship to fungus, a living organism and disease. All of which, ultimately, likely are/have microbes on them! And here’s the mind-blowing part with which I will leave you and about which I would love to hear your thoughts: they’re everywhere! Without them – no original oxygen production to allow for larger celled life, no snowflakes in fact – would exist! In fact, apparently you, me, my great-grandmother, the boy in the streets of Calcutta, the girl in the fields in Uzbekistan, to the Prime Minister of Canada are primarily microbes – say 90% at a cellular level!
Paul’s image of the Body of Christ just got a whole lot more interesting – for me – and only reinforces that how I treat myself, how I treat you, how I treat a snowflake has consequences much beyond the simply inner monologue that sometimes distracts me to think I’m an isolated leaf on the wind with no one else about … so, as I wrestle with another universal moment of unexpected humbling, what do you think?