Part 4: Holy Earth’s Birth Pangs

Jesus looks to the future in the chapter before his passion begins.  Today we experience the wars and horrors that Jesus describes in that future.  But he advises us not to fear.  Jesus leaves an unfinished world and calls us to build among us a community of love.

Our cosmic history stretches back 13.8 billion years to the bang so powerful our cosmos is still expanding.  Gravity has pulled the original gases into stars that burst in supernovas that cooked metals such as the iron that colors our blood.  We humans are made of stardust that formed galaxies like the Milky Way and stars like our sun.  Indeed the stars hold promise.  Our inanimate planet comes to life in bacteria deep in ocean vents and amphibians move from sea to land and air.  Evolution is our story; a community of love is ours to create.

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines.  This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

Mark 13.7-8

Holy woman full of grace Beatrice Bruteau, philosopher, mathematician, author, mystic, said that we see Mary as the God Bearer, the one who brought Christ into the world.  Why not think of the whole universe as the God Bearer, she asks, the one who brings forth not only Jesus but also us.

The art pictures the Universe personified, giving birth to all creation.  All of us come out of the same womb.  How might this realization influence how I regard the “other”?  How do I treat those who share the womb of God with me?  What do I do to protect and nourish planet Earth who continually gives birth to me?

Imagine Jesus coming into our whole Earth, with its plants, animals, seas and prairies, cities and farms.  Imagine the whole universe—stars, galaxies, deep holes—welcoming God who made us all and is now among us in a human body.  Praise God for every beautiful bit of creation you see today.  Pray this prayer to conclude your time today and your retreat.

What reasons do we have not to fear?  To what do you want to give birth?  What is your most strenuous labor of love?  Use the image to reflect on how the whole cosmos gives birth to Jesus.  

Mothering Earth,
we live in the vast pregnancy
that is God’s creation and our cosmic home. 
Consciousness is our gift to the universe.

May we make no mistake.
Our struggles are the birth pangs
of an unfinished world becoming
the community of love
to which Jesus calls us to give birth.
May faith, not fear, motivate our labor.