A few weeks ago, our pastor told a story. I’ve pondered on that story several times since then.
Robert Farrar Capon wrote a lovely little book about the language of
theology called Hunting the Divine Fox. And he began it with a story
about an oyster who lived in the mud at the bottom of a tidal pool
between a rock and a starfish. The oyster’s self esteem was reasonably
healthy in the beginning. In fact, it was almost smug when it considered
the rock, a mere member of the mineral kingdom.
The oyster was perfectly happy until it learned that starfish had a
very low opinion of oysters, making them the butts of what pass for
ethnic jokes in the starfish world and referring to them derisively as
“nothing more than a rock with a stomach.”
This revelation sent the oyster into an angry sort of depression. He
realized just how little he knew and wondered whether the life of an
oyster is worth living at all. Soon he was in an existential crisis of
Job-like proportions, and he cried out to God, “Let the day perish
wherein I was spawned, and the night in which it was said, ‘A seed
oyster has appeared’… Why do I live my days in doubt and darkness? O
that one would hear me, and tell me openly of the glories above…”
And to the oyster’s astonishment, a voice from heaven answered, “All
right, all right. But I have to make it short. It’s Friday afternoon.”
God goes on to tell the oyster that there really is a whole world in
which things can move themselves about, a world far beyond the starfish
even. The oyster hears about the magical realm of college basketball and
the wondrous movement of young girls’ knees and prima ballerinas and
squirrels. God tells the oyster that a squirrel hadn’t lost its footing
since May 3rd, 1438. (Borrowed from Rev. Scott Walters “The oyster, the starfish & the ballerina”)
Today while taking our pups on a walk near our house, I was reminded of this story again when Greg said, “Imagine – there are creatures that live and die within a few feet of where they are born”. It’s hard to imagine this. An ant or cricket never knowing about the dogs or people just 10 feet away walking along the trail. A squirrel or bird never understanding tennis shoes or workout pants. Bees and butterflies with singular vision – never comprehending people near by.
I don’t know about you – but these things fascinate me. I want to understand them. I can’t. I have to ask the question, “are we too limited in our senses to comprehend the universe?” The answer is YES. That brings more questions – with no answers. Dimensions beyond sight, sound, touch, smell and emotion. Another time, another place. A God space – beyond our understanding.
We are limited – this much is for sure. We go on the best information possible and still we are left wondering. I love that we are made to question – and have to believe that our curiosity and ability to be self-aware makes us special. The creatures in the above story would never think to ask these questions, but we would. My pups would never be intelligent enough to think about ballerina’s knees and basketball. They simply wouldn’t comprehend it – and they’re not supposed to. But we are.
I believe that because we can wonder and question, debate and suppose – is a glimpse into God’s very nature. Him breathing through us as we are “made in His image”.
My son, Shawn and I used to have discussions that went late into the night about space and time and all related deep mysterious things. We never solved anything – and in fact would make other people listening to us very dizzy – but we enjoyed it. It made us feel very small – and very special. To think that the God of the universe would create us – and not only want to relate to us but also have a personal relationship with us! Incredible.
So as you are pondering that story above – I pray that you too would feel the magnitude of being very small in a great big universe. And that you too would feel God’s great love pouring out. As all mysteries are not yet revealed. Things that are wondered about but still hidden. May you get a glimpse of God’s perspective. He is bigger and knows way more than we could ever know.