Creation Mysticism in the Song of Songs

In his poem "Desiderata," Max Ehrmann states: "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars." People today have come to see that they are not ’over and against’ nature, but embedded in it, in the very creative matrix that has given them life and that continues to give life to new forms of genetic codes and, therefore, to new species through what is called `natural selection.’ Furthermore, nature is embedded in human beings who are truly children of the universe, made of the same stuff as are the mountains and the rain, the sand and the stars. They are governed by the laws of life and growth and death, as are the birds and the fish and the grass of the field. They thrive in the warmth of and through the agency of the sun, as does every other living thing. They come from the earth as from a mother, and they are nourished from this same source of life. This is more than poetry. New scientific insights and the resulting appreciation for the integrity of creation have begun a transformation of our anthropological perspectives that many regard as truly revolutionary. No longer is humankind thought to be the center of the universe. No longer is human ingenuity accorded free reign over the rest of the natural world. No longer are rights over nature claimed without an accompanying acknowledgment of human responsibilities. The long-established anthropocentric perspective is crumbling and women and men are struggling to fashion a new model for understanding their place in the universe. Without attributing a scientific mentality to the ancient Israelites, a similar sense of interconnectedness can be found in some of its poetry. In the Song of Songs, the natural world is not merely the stage upon which the drama of heterosexual love is played, the props of which can be set up and dismantled once a scene is completed. Rather, human love is an expression of the natural world. It is born because of it, and as a part of it. It is an aspect of the allurement that is at the heart of the macrocosmic universe. Lovers look into each other’s eyes and there glimpse the passion of creation. As they applaud each other’s body employing figures of speech, the lovers are also enhancing their appreciation of the world with the eyes of love. That is the way metaphors function; though two very different objects are connected by a single characteristic, within the metaphor itself, each object adding dimension of meaning to the other. In the Song of Songs, as the lovers describe their experience of each other’s body, they are investing their experience of creation with the love that has left them spellbound. Many people believe that mysticism is far from their own experience; they are not holy enough for it. Actually, we do not need to pray for this form of mysticism. All we have to do is open our senses to the wonders of the world and allow them to life our minds and hearts to God. Dianne Bergant, CSA

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